Sometimes we have to travel thousands of miles just to realize we were right where we needed to be from the beginning.
This seems to be the case with Turlock native Jeremy Penick (Guitar, vocals, banjo, dobro and bass), one half of the rebel country duo Thin Black Line.
Penick has traveled across most of the United States and several foreign countries with his previous metal/rock band Depswa (Geffen Records). After sharing the stage with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Killswitch Engage and Mudvayne, Penick has decided to leave the madness of Los Angeles behind.
He touches on the subject with “(What Dreams Are Made Of) Gimme Hills,” the first song off Thin Black Lines' self-titled debut album.
“Gimme Hills, gimme some shade by the river. Gimme back roads that’ll take me home. Gimme homemade wine and berries from a vine. Friends that’ll sing songs all night long. Gimme hills, where I’ve got space to breathe and my woman gives me all the love I need. Gimme hills! This life I have suits just fine.”
The comforts of home, right here in Stanislaus County, are echoed on several tracks throughout the album.
Erik Quisling (Piano, guitar, bass, vocals, and banjo) is the other vital component to this down-home duo.
Quisling, a Modesto local who also lived in Los Angeles, is no stranger to fame as well. He is a bestselling author (“The Angry Clam”) and produced the inimitable documentary chronicling the Sunset Strip, “Welcome to the Rainbow.”
Much like Hank Williams Jr.’s “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound” (1979 Elektra/Curb Records), this album can’t be pinned down to single style of music. It would be an injustice to simply refer to it as a country album, or even a rebel country album for that matter. This album rocks!
I don’t think Penick would mind the comparison. When I asked him who his favorite country music artist was, he immediately responded with “Hank Williams Jr.”
The Hank Williams Jr. vibe is certainly alive on tracks like “The Devil Can Wait Til Monday.” The song is a rebellious finger in the air at how the necessity to work all week can make a person adamant about making the most of their weekend.
”I won’t sleep til I have my fun. The devil can wait 'til the weekend's done”
The party continues on “All the Crazy People”. It’s a down-home, country style, party anthem that makes you wish the summer would return. It left me daydreaming about cracking open a cold one with friends and partying on the river, long past the setting sun. It elicits that feeling of a good ol’ fashioned Summer.
Los Banos-based outlaw country hick-hop band The Moonshine Bandits make an appearance on this song, courtesy of Suburban Noise Records. If you like the song, you''l love the video, available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K3evzhhOHA.
Not every song on this album is about partying, though. The song “When I Used to Make Believe” reminds us of how wonderful it is to be a child. It takes you on a journey to simpler times. The Jeff Buckley influence on this track is something that I can appreciate
“She Only Calls When She’s Lonely,” “Cold Jealous Woman” and “One Woman” can be considered warning songs to would-be suitors of hurtful women.
On the song “One Woman,” Penick sings, “My father told me, boy I have raised you to overcome just about anything. It wouldn’t be right if I left out the most dangerous one.”
“One Woman” expertly blends Southern country and blues. I actually discovered this track a few years ago as a single. I’ve been waiting for a full-length album ever since.
Fear not ladies, “If the Sunlight Could Stop the Rain” gives hope that one day your selfish man will change the errors of his ways and realize what he has. Soulfully sung, the lyrics “She loves her man but somehow, he don’t understand that she’s the sunshine in his rain,” will surely resonate with a few ladies out there.
A few of these tracks reminded me of The Eagles. Let’s face it, that’s a good thing. Listen to an Eagles song and then just try not to sing it for the rest of the day. Tracks like “I Believe” and “Love Is a Bridge” could have easily been top sellers off of “Hotel California.”
I think what captivates me the most about this duo is the musical prowess they collectively possess. This album is 15 tracks of sheer musical genius, and they did it all themselves.
No shows have been booked as of yet. In Penick's words, “We’re working on getting all of the music tightened up before we go out into the world.”
A reoccurring question that I plan on asking every band I interview is. How do you feel about this album? Here was Thin Black Lines response: “Both of us feel great about completing this album. I believe it’s some of our best and most satisfying work that we’ve done over our careers.”
“Thin Black Line” is available to purchase for download on Amazon and iTunes. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/thinblacklineband.