My dad always listened to the country music on the radio. He said it made him feel like home. I said, “Dad, did a girl in your youth ever once tell you that your tractor is sexy?” The answer to that question is no. My dad did not have a tractor.
Joe Purdy is the absolute of what country music should sound like. He makes you feel like home. “Eagle Rock Fire” is the most recent of Purdy’s releases. This album is a grand and organic work of art. It is authentic, unique, and tells a story. It is cohesive without being repetitive. It is beautiful without being too polished or pristine. There’s still a little dirt on it and it smells like the world.
This is a weird thing, but I love when albums begin with the title track. It makes the title feel intentional. “Eagle Rock Fire” opens the album with some bright, fresh banjo notes which fade and fall into a warm, glowing pool of sunlight. Purdy’s voice is warm, elegant, and dusty. It has a bitter finish, like thorns on a rosebush. “She married a loser but he makes her happy”. This song relates some sad and bittersweet affairs, some longing, some caring, some letting go.
“L.A. Livin’” poetically proclaims the pros and cons of southern California while missing the southeast and its familiar people, its simpler way of life. There’s a girl there. Sometimes he thinks about her. “I hope that you and my old dog ain’t mad at me no more.” But LA life does not agree with this singer. There are too many silly parties and fights in tight pants.
“I know a girl, she’s blonde and free. Turns 21 on New Years Eve. Every time I see her, she clings to me, cause that’s what young girls do.” This one is just poetry. He goes on to explain that she’s “an old soul living in a cheap hotel”. Another girl comes along who is “a walk in the park” and “doesn’t like it when I tell her no.” A third likes the way he smells and he likes “her freckles in the sunrise”. But he’s still looking, and moping, and singing, and playing his banjo, “Waiting for Loretta too Long”.
“Ba Girl” is a gentle half-spoken song addressing the nature of Purdy’s sad songs. Girls running off with Blue Man Group, staring, bad intentions, good times just don’t rhyme. This ballad delivers advice such as: dogs often are a better option than humans, “chances are it wasn’t meant to be”, just steer clear of people who you know will break your heart, and “don’t fall in love with a mannequin”, “We’ll keep writing cowboy songs and being mean.”
“This American” drives you around the country solo in a pickup truck with your things in it. You think about the people you’ve left behind, and the people waiting for you who you have left behind at another time. You watch the land pass, the days pass, the years. You watch your eyes and skin change in the mirrors, the weather change in the sky. Your life is different than it was but still the same.
This album is simultaneously fresh and nostalgic. You will enjoy it. It is an adventure and a memory all in one. Purdy has curated and produced another beautiful, raw, timeless work of music. Listen to his voice, soak in his emotions, and imagine his memories with me.