Flat River Band have been making some great music for years, but in their new record Every Dog Has Its Day, they attempt to refine themselves through more ambitiously melodic material befitting their Americana-inspired country sound. In songs like “In Another World,” “No Hill for a Climber” and the title track, Flat River Band carefully navigate experimental waters while attending to the one element their fans care about first and foremost – a big, strong harmony at the center of every song. There have been a lot of really amazing country releases to debut in 2019 and 2020 so far, but if you’re looking for something with a familiar twang and a not so familiar sonic edginess, Every Dog Has Its Day needs to be filed under required listening this January.
Using a conservative approach to the arrangements in “Beauty Amongst the Trees,” the title track and “Wings of a Rumor” was definitely the right way for Flat River Band to go here, and contrary to what their peers would most likely have done, they’re not allowing for any bells and whistles to come between their melodic core and the audience they’re so humbly trying to reach. The 2010s brought a lot more surrealism into the fold for American country music artists (and especially bands), and though there’s a touch of self-awareness to the style of lyric most commonly employed by the band in Every Dog Has Its Day, I like that they’re not giving into mainstream trends in some bid to appease the consumer.
While there’s no universe where I would describe this album as being an alternative country release, there are just as many themes, influences and colorful components in play here are there would be in, say, a W.C. Beck record. The difference is distinguished in tracks like “In Another World” and “Devil on the Side,” where Flat River Band openly reject any opportunities to streamline their sound as to make the tracklist flow better as a whole. In this sense, Every Dog Has Its Day is an intentionally-eclecticized patchwork of country music treasures meant to sound more like a varied mixtape than a thoroughly planned studio effort. It might not work for every critic, but in terms of consistent listenability, this is something I think younger acts should really try to emulate when making an LP of their own.
It was crafted more for the serious country fan than it was the occasional listener, but regardless of your enthusiasm for the genre (or lack thereof), you need to give Flat River Band’s Every Dog Has Its Day a listen this winter season. Flat River Band have come a long way in the last ten years, and if they’re as committed to the music in the 2020’s as they were in the 2010’s, they’re going to keep racking up with the praise from critics and audiences around the country. Nashville could certainly use more of their free-spirited melodies in the next decade, and something tells me that with the success of Every Dog Has Its Day, the scene is going to get their fair share of them.