If you were inclined to put a location as the source of our Americana compilation – although the music here largely originates from other parts of the great union – it would be California. With its vast open-plan landscape and one season (summer) per year, it typifies the expansive style of songwriting that is contained in this compilation that stands in stark contrast to the claustrophobic (yet no less alluring) musical approach of Europeans. There’s arguably something in the climate that dictates much of our musical terrain, whether it be the sweaty loose-hipped funk of New Orleans or the frenetic and frosty four-on-the-top of Detroit’s Motown. American songs are born out of an optimism that is probably piped in the water (as well as flouride, the British have cynicism added to the drinking supply).
This cadre of – mainly – white musicians, although clearly influenced by some African-American music, were the first generation not to be fixated solely by the music of black America. This was a flowering of something more general, less clearly defined, as hazy as an Los Angelean daybreak. What is notable about the music is that it’s neither black nor white, but contains elements of both, and though its influences undoubtedly derive from R&B (in the old meaning of the word), there are country, jazz, funk, rock and disco tinges to many of the songs.
The songs are no less good, the production no less shimmering than any Lenny Waronker job. We’d wager you’ve not heard of many of the artists here and that’s ultimately the purpose: to shine a light on the darker corners of American pop culture. And they don’t get much more radio-friendly than this shining collection here.
The tracks for this compilation were selected by Zafar Chowdhry (the man behind www.zafsmusic.com) and Mark Taylor.