Music Review: Company Man- Company Man

(Released November 2, 2012)

By Greg Allard

For those unaware, an impressive bluegrass band has risen in Gainesville that forges elements of country, rock and folk and defies the tired machinery of contemporary country music with a middle-fingered fiddle.

With their self-titled debut LP, the four-piece band consisting of Jason Hedges (dobro, vocals), Jackie Leeper (upright bass, vocals), Rob McGregor (guitar, harmonica and vocals), and Hamilton Rott (fiddle), does it all with flair, real soul and nary a drum.

The record begins with the fiddle-heavy title track written and sung by Rob, whose resigned defiance to the ways of the world are spelled out from the get go, “Well, I used to drink that water in the river, but my little girl she drank it here and died/ They say it’s all my fault, I should have bought it from that company man who damned it, now it’s dry.

In the next track, Jackie displays her feminine charms with the catchy “Yer Boys,” a “why do you run with the boys when you could be with me? “ song, replete with poetic phrases like “those shadow doorway eyes and stained and crooked smiles” and “as you go down that dark and lonely road, know the light stays on in my window.”

Among a number of standout tracks on the album, Jason’s “Someone Loves You,” is right up there, with the beautifully lonely lyrics, “There’s a cold breeze blowing through St. Augustine—it feels like a ghost keeps following me/ But I could use the company, so it’s okay.” “Lovely” is a sing-a-long, also by Jason, which appears to have been recorded live about a man hopelessly and openly in love.

His song “All the Way From Nowhere” has single written all over it, and another one of Jason’s tracks, “Cozy,” sounds like a tribute to Jonathan Edward’s “Shanty,” with Jason’s Randy Newman twang and around-the-house subject matter (minus Edwards’ weed reference), and Rob’s harmonica.

Speaking of harmonica, Rob uses it unapologetically in “Blue,” a memorable, entertaining and comedic lament of a dejected lover. His sense of humor as a spurred lover follows him in “Cold Wind,” with words like, “I remember how you used to be so sweet—your kiss of honey has turned to rotten leeks.” But Rob is not just a one trick pony; his “Lonesome Road” would make Graham Parsons and the early incarnation of the Eagles proud.

My suspicion that Jackie is the love child of June Carter and Roger Miller was more or less confirmed with the infectious “Love Song.” Her strongest track on the album, “Bottle,” which features Jackie wisely singing “You poor damn fool—that bottle’s drinking you,” may be the song with the potentiality to be the biggest hit on the whole LP

With three great singer-songwriters and four great musicians (including some bad-ass fiddle playing by Hamilton Rott), Company Man appears set to be a formidable force on the music scene for a long time to come.

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