Downton Abbey may be all over, but here’s something new from DownTown Mystic, whose own upstairs/downstairs dynamic is between acoustic Americana drive and electric bite.
We’re happy to premiere the new six track EP “DownTown Nashville,” which otherwise has its official release date on March 18, digitally distributed on Sony Music’s The Orchard. Despite its title (and its cover shot of the snazzy men’s room of Nashville’s Heritage Hotel Oak Bar), the country aspects of the collection are more along the lines of the Beatles covering Buck Owens.
Rocker Robert Allen, who records under the name DownTown Mystic, got the Nashville bug when one of the EP’s tracks, “Believe,” was picked to appear on a Sony Music country hits compilation in Europe alongside such country hitmakers as Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, and Dierks Bentley. He got the break when one big name refused permission to use a song and DownTown Mystic’s roots music filled the bill (despite his own East Coast roots.)
Indeed, the first track on “DownTown Nashville,” “Sometimes Wrong,” first appeared in demo version on last year’s “DownTown Mystic on E Street” and used the Boss’s famed rhythm section.
The new version, as on the rest of the EP, boasts the rhythm section from Ian Hunter’s Rant Band—Steve Holley, the former Wings drummer, who has also played with Elton John and Joe Cocker; and Paul Page, who has played bass with John Cale, Dion, Gary U.S. Bonds, and Bo Diddley.
Some of the Music City twang is courtesy of session ace Lance Doss. And songs like “Back Door” has a stomp that wouldn’t be out of place on a country playlist while not betraying DownTown Mystic’s rock roots. Like the concluding “Shade of White Bluegrass,” it adds extra strings from mandolins to enliven the sound.
There is some unintended capturing of the current political climate in the lyrics, especially “Losing My Mind (Too Many Times),” when he declares “too many times have the same lies been spoken; too many times trust was weak/ I’m losing my mind and my faith has been fadin,’ living in the land of the free.” But he’s by and large more about the music, not the issues.
You might say the aim of DownTown Mystic could fit on a ball cap: Making Americana Great Again.