Away from the bright lights of Nashville and the more clichéd and commercial aspirations of country music, different, more honest and heartfelt strands of the genre are being hammered out in venues, practice rooms and jam sessions, not just throughout the American heartland but beyond. Russell Lee is testament to that. An Americana heart beats within his music but like so many artists beyond the borders of its point of origin they add something of themselves and their own culture to the mix.
It is for that reason that a whole dose of Canadian straightforwardness and a no nonsense approach creeps into the music keeping in check the genres flashier antics and more theatrical bent. Picture is the latest release from his musical production line, which has so far produced two albums, a seasonal collection of songs and a wealth of well-received singles. Here he pushes those country roots in a more rock direction and the result is a balance of the melodic nature of the former with the grittier and more direct tones of the latter.
In this turbulent age it seems the world is looking more and more at Canada and its people as a model of how to weather the slings and arrows of these outrageous times but no one suspected that would apply to the very soundtrack of quintessential America as well. Anyone can copy and pastiche a genre, but the skill is to make it your own, it’s a skill Russell Lee has in spades.