Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Waxed - Record Review from Issue #15 May-June 1998

Trailer Bride

Smelling Salts (Bloodshot)

As niches go, “female rockabilly hepcat” looks to be wide open. Not anymore. Say hidy to Melissa Swingle, the singer-guitarist who puts the Bride (not to mention the smarts) in this North Carolina trio. Imagine a female Randy Newman crooning sly, jacked-up songs about double-wide trailers, right-wing militias and reckless driving as self-expression in a lazy Mississippi deadpan drawl, and you’ve got something close to Trailer Bride’s blue-collar country-soul.

Trailer Bride’s sophomore effort, Smelling Salts, isn’t as immediately astounding as the high points of the group’s unjustly obscure 1996 debut. But it’s a satisfying album that wears well, despite getting off to a shaky start with “Quit That Jealousy”. Where Swingle usually walks that fine line between yeeha and yayhoo, “Quit That Jealousy” collapses into schtick: “Baby, take off that shirt/Lemme see your hairy chest.”

But Smelling Salts has plenty to make up for that. Swingle is a clear-eyed, precise lyricist, although it can be easy to miss amid the jaw harps, harmonicas and jittery-tempo twangy guitars. Lend a close ear to the languid “South Of The Border” — “Silence is golden, maybe for the sane/But late-night radio static is silver like rain” — and before you know it, her couplets will be following you around after dark like the moon.

Swingle’s monochromatic voice is admittedly limited, but she’s such a crafty singer and writer that she gets plenty out of it. Credit Mike Beard’s production, too, for applying the reverb just where it’s needed and nowhere else. “Cowgirl” draws out the last word of each verse into an eerie, ambient echo, making it sound as if Swingle is singing from a pitch-black windswept plain.

One of the more intriguing dichotomies at work here is the conflict between home and hearth on one side, and the stage on the other. First comes “Porch Song”, about a homebody who can only sing “true and right” to her child on her porch, “’cause I get scared under them honky-tonk lights.” But by the end of the album, Swingle’s more extroverted side is back up front with “Show Bizness”: “Hey, let’s go to Memphis/Break into show business…We got show business in our blood.”

The conflict is not abstract to Swingle, a mother balancing the demands of music and family. But she’d better get used to it: Demand on the music side is likely to be on the way up for a long time to come.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108

Discuss

Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #15 May-June 1998

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »


From the Blogs

  • Exclusive Premiere of Cowboy Jack Clement's "Let the Chips Fall"
    Cowboy Jack was one of the most beloved country and Americana artists of his generation. For proof, just look at the list of artists who showed up to lend a hand on his final album: John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Bobby Bare, Duane Eddy, T Bone Burnett, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Rodney Crowell, Buddy Miller, Dan Auerbach, Leon Russell, Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlin […]
  • Easy Ed's Sideshow of Solos, Duets and Ensembles: Session #42
    Welcome to the 42nd installment of random thoughts, trivial facts. occasional fiction, poetry, haikus, photos, artwork, stories of fleeting fame and dastardly deeds, and videos or tunes that may have caught my attention or fancy of late. As you can see by the picture at the side, I've got dessert on my mind, and in particular...pies. The Oxford Companio […]
  • St. Vincent in Concert: As Performance Artist, Annie Clark Shows Her True Colors
    One of the most intriguing aspects about attending a St. Vincent concert is the anticipation. What will Annie Clark do next? That’s what one high-strung son of someone was thinking for the rest of us while pressed up against the barrier leaving just enough breathing room between entertainer and her target audience as March wound down while that inevitable da […]
  • Lone Justice - This Is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes, 1983 (Album Review)
    Much bootlegged, these landmark early studio recordings by Lone Justice are finally given an official release. By December 1983, performing their swashbuckling fusion of punk and country, Lone Justice were consistently playing ‘sold out’ sets in L.A.’s numerous rock clubs. That month Maria McKee (lead vocal, guitar), Ryan Hedgecock (guitar, backing vocal), M […]
  • Stace England & The Salt Kings – America, Illinois (Album Review)
    Let me tell you a little about Stace England.  Back in 2005 or so, Stace and the boys put out an album titled Greetings From Cairo, Illinois which music critic Greil Marcus put in his Top Ten albums of that year.  They followed it up in 2007 with Salt Sex Slaves, another historically apt musical look behind the facade of reality-as-told.  (Here is part of th […]
  • Young Brits Climbing the Ladder: Blair Dunlop and Ward Thomas
    Ah, sweet  youth. Time for an update on Blair Dunlop and Ward Thomas, two young British music talents that  I have mentioned before on these pages and who are worth keeping an eye on. Dunlop turned 22 in February. He is a folk-country singer with an impressive musical pedigree (his dad is British folk icon Ashley Hutchings) and who, I have just learned playe […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!


Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter