Teddy Russell - Young Love
Teddy Russell woodsheded his musical skills in lonely Plainview, Texas long before he ever dreamed of relocating to the state capital Austin with vague, tangled dreams of playing his music for the widest possible audiences. His self-taught guitar playing gives him a style quite unlike any other musicians on the scene and it likewise shapes his songwriting in an unique way – the country influence on his new single “Young Love” is palpable, but Russell takes it in a much different direction than what we might expect. Instead, “Young Love” revisits familiar themes with a personal touch that sets it apart from the pack. The classic country touches coloring the track bring added flavor, but it’s Russell’s musical and songwriting voice that’s the song’s beating heart.
The steel guitar contributions to “Young Love” imbue the cut with much of its character and Russell’s retro-minded vocal delivery proves to be a strong counterpart for the instrumental accompaniment, It isn’t a particularly long performance and the instrumental embellishments courtesy of the steel guitar is much more than ornamental; instead, those sonic additions to the piece help flesh the song out to its fullest realization, grounding it in tradition while giving it idiosyncratic flair.
The tempo is ideal. It’s a minor marvel to note how much Russell’s songwriting achieves despite a consciously limited canvas. The spirit powering the song naturally lends itself to a much longer song, but Russell never feels the need to push the envelope and, instead, aims his attention on tailoring the performance for maximum effect. He hits on certain expected notes, but the inevitability of those turns is satisfying because we hear Russell arrive there in such an artful way, but there’s a laser focus on balancing affecting and entertaining a listener seldom heard in popular music today.
Excellent production is equally key to bringing this recording off for listeners. Russell could have easily opted for a low-fi, lowest common denominator approach, but instead envelops his recording with resonant warmth that accentuates the song’s melodic strengths while enhancing its immediacy for listeners. His vocals are produced well. He has a certain degree of primacy in the mix, naturally, but much of the song seems to concern itself with balancing his singing against the rich, albeit understated, musical arrangement making “Young Love” as good as it is.
Teddy Russell has already traveled far from playing his guitar in a basement flanked by surfing and tropical beach posters/ His brand of songwriting his reaching a wider audience than he could have ever imagined while still maintaining a sharp sense of identity that, frankly, few of his contemporaries share. We can classify Russell as country or Americana but, in the end, the truth is that he writes and records Teddy Russell music and it can’t be called anything else. His songwriting stands that far apart from the pack and there’s no indication that he’s somehow peaked this early on. “Young Love”, instead, proves this major new young talent has just begun to make his voice heard across the spectrum of popular music.