C.K. & the Rising Tide - American Romance
The first track from C.K. & the Rising Tide’s new full-length album American Romance, “Road to Damascus,” opens with a gritty yet simple grinding moan from an organ that is quickly shattered by the warm strumming of an acoustic guitar and lyrics that take us straight back into the heyday of vintage Americana. Led by the heartfelt, soulful lead vocal of C.K. Flach, the Rising Tide comes crashing through the stereo speakers on American Romance with a certain oomph that those of us who love alternative country music have been waiting to hear for some time. While country music hasn’t necessarily given up and died on us, the genre has definitely hit a rough patch in the last few years. Thankfully, as 2020 nears closer, country seems to be featuring a new wave of energetic artists emerging with much more indie rock sensibilities than we’ve heard in previous generations.
In American Romance, C.K. & the Rising Tide don’t profess to have broken any historically different ground in alt-country, but they’re definitely not playing anything remotely similar to the last era of bands that came before them. There’s a significantly more freeform, unstructured format to this approach than mid-2000’s efforts from Drive By Truckers, and there’s less glossy overproduced guitar riffs compared to heavier southern rock acts like Clutch, and both are changes for the better in these circumstances. This album does live up to its name however, providing us with a postmodern illustration of the American spirit through traditional, Heartland-inspired folk rock in the most romanticized of formats. That’s not to say that C.K. & the Rising Tide come off like a cheesy bar band though; quite the contrary in fact. I’d go as far as to say that I haven’t heard as honest of a recording in country in years prior to hearing American Romance, if you can qualify its swaying western-stylized beats as being “country” instead of another equally pastoral label.
When a group comes around that garners as much buzz as these guys are, regardless of their background, time in existence, adherence (or defiance) of scene politics or anything else, you’ve got to stop and take notice of whatever it is they’re doing. And right now, critics from the rock, indie, country and folk music communities have got C.K. & the Rising Tide hot on their radar thanks to the smooth harmonies and rich, organic melodies that make up the ten tracks on American Romance. I can’t say that I disagree with their vast, near-universal acclaim for this latest release from the Albany, New York-based band, and although it’s not quite as prolific a release as they might be capable of songwriting-wise, it’s nevertheless a fine example of the depth and maturity that they can be capable of when they work together in the studio. Fans and music enthusiasts should make sure to keep an eye out for an upcoming tour supporting American Romance to follow in the coming months of 2018; personally, their live show is at the top of my summer list after hearing this dynamic new album.