Charlie Major,
Inside Out
(Stony Plain, 2004)

This CD reminds me of nothing so much as the dentist chair. In my ordinary life, when I'm not a captive audience, I make a point -- a conscientious one that on occasion has seriously inconvenienced me -- of keeping modern commercial country music as far away from my ears as possible. This is not because I hate country music. It is, in point of fact, because I love country music, to which approximately 97.9 percent of what gets played on what passes for country radio bears scarcely any family resemblance anymore.

Thus, I hear faux-country -- actually, Nashville schlock-pop; actually, phrase denoting genre not to be used in a family-friendly forum -- only when I'm suffering root canal, which is literally the last time I heard the stuff, spewing from the radio as my dentist happily picked tooth and pocket. That is, until I put this CD, which recently arrived in a package from Rambles.NET, on the player.

Charlie Major is a Canadian performer who pursues his career, I gather, entirely or at least mostly in his own country. That said, nothing distinguishes him from the current horde of hunky crooners who, like pod aliens, now possess the soul of Nashville. I am certain that only the most obsessive-compulsive fandroid could tell you, if untold him-, her- or itself, whether that's Major singing or Kenny Chesney or Harry Hatact or whatever vacuous blowhard is this week fronting generic songs, mouthing generic sentiments and surrounding himself with generic arrangements, intended for a generic audience to which "music" exists only to fill aural space and whistle through the empty spaces between the openings on the right and left sides of the skull.

If there is an original idea here, it has escaped my attention. These are mostly, of course, relationship songs: loving you, missing you, remembering you, wishing I'd done better by you, wishing you'd done better by me, hitting the road thinking of you, blah blah blah and then, for a change of pace, blahp blahp blahp. Not, of course, that you can't make good songs of this sort of material, and lots of country artists -- who found novel, meaningful ways of conjuring up familiar emotions and situations -- once did. Some still do, though you won't hear them on mainstream radio where, if you live in Canada, you will hear instead the minor likes of Major. Here, however, the cliches are so thick that ... well, when you hear Major phrase "love" as "lllluuuuuuuuuvvvv," you would like to think it's intentional parody. If only we lived in a world where that were true.

- Rambles
written by Jerome Clark
published 12 June 2004