The FBR - Ghost
Limestone Music Group, 2023
“You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record…”
There is a bit to unpack here. Marlarie McConaha and Tim Hunter are Franklin, TN habitués who met in a bar on open mic night. Bonding over the music of Leonard Cohen, they adopted the moniker “The FBR” after Cohen’s 1971 “Famous Blue Raincoat” from Songs Of Love And Hate (Columbia) and began performing together.
Having emerged from that Davidson-Williamson county melting pot, their music assimilates styles like collecting snowflakes that dissolve into “The FBR Sound.” Alt-Rock, Alt-Country, rockabilly, and folk music on a cocaine bender, the pair uses what they like from the songbooks available.
Vocally, McConana sings like a sullied Morgan Wade, (mostly) untouched by Nashville’s commercial infection. On “Before I Drown” she and Hunter fold a whiff of the harmonic underpinning from Toto’s “Africa” together with the ethereal ambiance of Black Dub until it is upended with a sharpened Slim Shady jag. This is a great opener for a debut recording.
McConaha channels Larkin Poe’s Rebecca Lovell’s downhome persona adding boot grit and dirt road dust on “Rain On.” The pair favor souring, anthem-like phrasing that is never repeated lazily like a glow-in-the-dark idee fixe. “Skies Of Donegal Blue” draws all these elements together sewn with the hard percussion and seething slide guitar on the low strings.
Together McConaha and Hunter harmonize like angels smelling of cigarettes and beer. “Still On The Run” has airplay written all over it, propelled by the insistent arrangement, instrumentation, and a time-tested chord progression. “Hurricane-House Of The Rising Sun” sums up the band’s statement of southern grace in the shadow of St. Louis Cathedral. This is an encore piece if one ever was by a new talent ready to play it many times.