The Dirty Guv'nahs: Musical Salvation
In the age of social media and the decline of major record labels, it is easier for artists to get their music to audiences while retaining creative freedom.
Still, in hopes of fame and fortune, many continue the traditional business of attempting to appeal to the masses. Then, there are others who refuse to sacrifice individuality and evolve on their own terms. The Dirty Guv'nahs fall into the latter category, as proven on Youth Is In Our Blood.
The Dirty Guv'nahs are a group of six University of Tennessee graduates who happened into a band in 2006. The Guv'nahs are a rather smart bunch of guys, with five master's degrees among the members, only one being undergraduate.
None had ever played in a group and only formed because one signed up his non-existent "band" to perform at a benefit. The performance went exceptionally well, and the Guv'nahs abandoned academics in pursuit of music, releasing a self-titled debut album in 2009.
Youth Is In Our Blood, recorded just months after the The Dirty Guv'nahs initial release, contains straight-out, get-down-on-floor songs contrasted with calmer, more contemplative numbers, and a few that fall in between the two on the energy meter. The Guv'nahs are a meeting of the blues rock style of The Black Crowes and the folkier Avett Brothers.
Youth is a reoccurring theme on Youth Is In Our Blood. This is fitting, as The Dirty Guv'nahs are still a very young and maturing, yet talented, group. Incredible energy drives the harder songs on Youth like the opener, "Baby We Were Young," but the group also radiates when taking a breath and more time on songs like "Song for My Beloved."
While most new artists are constantly molding their sound to fit what's popular at the moment, The Dirty Guv'nahs live by the mantra, "We'll get better in time," as stated in "New Salvation," perhaps preserving distinctiveness for those who enjoy hearing what's not on the radio or popular at the moment.
Though not gunning for the mainstream, The Dirty Guv'nahs are certainly capable of grabbing nationwide attention. A near sell-out crowd at Knoxville's Bijou Theatre led to a spot at Bonnaroo 2009, which then led to recording Youth at Levon Helm's Woodstock, N.Y., studio. The Guv'nahs also managed to snag Grammy Award-winning producer Justin Guip for Youth. While the band came into the project with their own influences, some showing up on the album may be no mistake, as Guip worked with Helm on numerous projects, as well as with The Black Crowes.
Evidence of their growing popularity, Zac Brown picked The Dirty Guv'nahs to play his sold-out Sailing Southern Ground cruise, from which the group just returned. Hopefully, such exposure will enrich the already strong sound displayed by The Guv'nahs on Youth, rather than dumbing it down.
Rock and country fans alike will like Youth Is In Our Blood, but some may find the songs on the far end of each side of the spectrum somewhat isolating. Fortunately, The Dirty Guv'nahs value variety and don't seclude themselves into a musical corner. The Dirty Guv'nahs haven't reached their full potential, but are certainly on their way there, as shown with such a meritable album as Youth Is In Our Blood.
The Dirty Guv'nahs are online at TheDirtyGuvnahs.com. The group will perform in Asheville at the Emerald Lounge on Sept. 30.