Remember when you used to be able to turn on a country station and not immediately want to turn it off? If more stations played acts like The Salty Dogs, I’d never want to abandon country radio again.
I remember back in the old days of KSSN 96 FM — the premiere country station of Central Arkansas — that when the famed Bob Robbins introduced an act or a song on his program, it meant that was the gold standard of the country genre.
Well, I can just hear Robbins’s voice now, and how delighted he’d be if he heard “Gold,” the latest LP from Little Rock country act The Salty Dogs.
He’d probably tell you that this band was IT and he’d sandwich their music in between tracks from Alan Jackson, Clint Black or Brooks & Dunn.
Yes, the Salty Dogs are a modern act, in a sense, despite being around, playing here there and everywhere in between for close to two decades now. But they’ve got a sound that’s as classic as it gets.
And I could hear songs from this record played next to some of the titans of the industry and think nothing of it. You see, The Salty Dogs have what I’d call the perfect sound for a country act — it’s like a great wine. Equal parts bold and robust, blended with a unique taste and flavor. And when you taste it — or hear it, in this sense — you want more of it.
They traverse between the Bakersfield sound, to the early ‘50s classic era of Nashville, to the honky tonk sound of ‘80s-90s country — and it’s perfect because it’s not the overproduced pop country that’s overtaken the genre.
Turn on “Gold,” and the first song you’ll hear is a charming tune called “You Can’t Miss Anyone Anymore.” You’ll immediately harken back to the days when “Chattahooche” dominated the charts. And that’s a refreshingly good thing. I miss country music like this.
But it’s not that the genre has gone away from this particular sound. And maybe it’s unfair to label this sound as “nostalgic.” That’s because bands like The Salty Dogs are here. They haven’t gone away and come back. They’re here and have been for quite some time, lurking in the shadows. And the thing about “Gold” or any other output by The Salty Dogs, is that it always sounds like this. It’s fun, it’s addictive and it’s just pure country. Plain and simple.
To me, country music doesn’t get much better than “Gold,” and if you ask me, it’s one of the best records of the year.