The words “country music” send a shiver up the spine of many people who have had to endure the ten-gallon circus that passes for it nowadays, but I was raised on low-watt AM country stations, where this music was the last popular expression of love, loss and laughing at life. I suspect the members of Flatbed Honeymoon had a similar upbringing, for the 15 tracks on the band’s debut come as close to capturing that AM country patina as anyone does. The stunning thing about this debut is the way the three songwriters integrate their strengths.
Eric Schmitt’s honey-dripping drawl makes the rambling opening track “Rain” as warm as an embrace and gives the hard love vignettes in “The Electrician” a sepia-toned glow. One minute, Randolph Thomas’ weathered delivery imbues “You Don’t Even Know” with a wisdom rising out of its congenial rolling boogie, and the next it wallows in existential crisis on “Patsy Cline.” Bassist Denise Brumfield offers a perfect counterpoint in her song “Constantly Insecure,” laying bare the darker mechanisms of love.
Throughout, Schmitt’s serpentine dobro winds around Thomas’ acoustic foundations, aglow in Fred Weaver’s sympathetic production. Hell, they even manage to be funny on the entendre-laden “One Last Screw” and “Reservation Blues.” I feel like I’m blowing the dust off an old radio, spinning the dial to find those old country songs and discovering they’ve matured along with me. Flatbed Honeymoon might mean there is still some hope for country music.