Country has been the one genre of music that probably has the most loyal fan-base, considering the fact that in the wake of declining album sales and a music industry crippled with piracy and the digital revolution, it is the only genre that has maintained consistent album sales and has managed to stay mostly unadulterated even while churning out new artists and bands. Over the past 5 years, country has churned out some of the biggest selling albums of our times like Carrie Underwood’s ‘Some Hearts‘, Taylor Swift’s ‘Fearless‘ as well as her self titled début album, and Lady Antebellum’s ‘Need You Now‘, and has garnered major critical acclaim as well, with The Dixie Chicks, Sugarland, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Alison Krauss and Carrie Underwood making clean sweeps at the Grammy’s, not just in the country category, but the prestigious Record, Song and Album Of The Year categories as well.
So when Alabama bred sibling trio The Band Perry, comprising of Kimberly Perry, Reid Perry and Neil Perry released their self-titled début album in 2010, country music fanatics like me sat up and took notice. After Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift’s path-breaking success both in terms of album sales as well as critical acclaim, the expectations on another band of the same genre and creating the same style of music were high, and trying to match up to the feats of the aforementioned heavy weights of the industry could have back-fired. But with a style that’s sassy yet vulnerable, forthright yet subtle, the album and the band sail through with flying colors and assert their position as a major force to be reckoned with. Personally, the album has grown on me to become one of my favorite albums of the year.
The band released their first single ‘Hip To The Heart‘ in late 2009 after being discovered by Garth Brook’s manager Bob Dyle. The single slowly and steadily climbed up on the Billboard Country Songs Chart and eventually peaked at # 20, becoming a moderate success , and building the anticipation for their new album and single.
It was with the release of their second single ‘If I Die Young‘, that the band came into a league of their own. A fantastic mid-tempo ballad over acoustic guitars and a clever use of the fiddle and the mandolin, it’s actually a happy song in which lead singer Kimberly sings about having no regrets if she were to die as she’s content with the life that she’s already lived. Kimberly’s voice, a folksy mix of Natasha Bedingfield meets Alison Krauss, carries most of the weight of the album on her shoulders, while her brothers create the perfect back-up vocals that augment and enhance and generally compliment Kimberly’s voice.
In December 2010, ‘If I Die Young‘ reached the # 1 spot on the Billboard Country Song Charts, while the album debuted at # 4 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart. After the success of ‘If I Die Young‘ on country radio, a pop version of the song was serviced to radio stations where the song received major airplay especially from the pop and adult contemporary stations, resulting in the return of the song on the Billboard Hot 100 for a second run.
In its 35th week, the song reached the top 15, making it the slowest climb to the top 15 by a song in the history of the charts. Ironically the other two songs holding the previous record were country numbers as well, Carrie Underwood’s ‘Before He Cheats‘ and Taylor Swift’s ‘Teardrops On My Guitar‘ both took 33 weeks to reach the Top 15. The song is presently at # 14 on the Hot 100 after a whopping 39 weeks on the charts, and it’s airplay and digital sales are increasing every week, after having sold over 2 million digital downloads in the US already, with a high possibility of the song reaching the coveted Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. It also earned the band their first Grammy nomination for Best Country Song at the 2011 Grammy Awards.
Their third single, the incredibly tongue-in-cheek and sassy ‘You Lie‘ too saw major success on the country charts peaking at # 2, while their 4th single ‘All Your Life‘ has just been serviced to radio. In the meantime the album has already been certified Gold by the RIAA and sales of the album have been consistently going up in the wake of the second chart run of ‘If I Die Young‘.
After giving the entire album a listen last year, two songs stood out and has remained stuck in my head for almost a year now. The mellifluous ‘Walk Me Down The Middle‘ is by far the best song on the album, and is a brilliant forthright declaration of love for someone who you’ve been in love with for long, and who’s realized your worth after being with someone else, and has returned back to you. Vocally and lyrically, my favorite song from the album.
The other one being the feisty ‘Lasso‘, about being in love with the wrong person, admitting the fact and letting go. Kimberly’s voice shines through on this one as well.
Apart from the above, the album has a handful of hits waiting to be released as singles including the soulful ‘Double Heart‘ and the powerful ‘Independence‘.
Overall, The Band Perry is one band you need to look out for over the next few years. From the way things are shaping up for them, it’s just a matter of time before they take over radio and dominate the charts. If you’ve enjoyed music from Lady Antebellum, Sugarland, Rascal Flatts etc, you are bound to love their music. And if haven’t heard of them, give them a try. There’s nothing like some good old country melodies to warm that heart of yours.