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Emmerick’ has a sound for everyone with ‘North’

Marty Schroeder | Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Southern rock exists in the popular mind – incarnated by bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special. The genre is no longer popular for emerging artists to emulate – at least not artists that want to find mainstream success. Perhaps this is because the bands that came before them were just so talented at what they did, they set a benchmark no one can hope to match.

Tim Emmerick and Cold Front County make a valiant and somewhat successful attempt, but cant quite match what came before them. It’s album, “North,” is an excellent array of rock, country and the melding of those two genres. It does make some in-roads in combining genres – and it does it better than most mainstream bands. However, it can’t match the greats of either musical genre and falls into the trappings of mainstream pop that should be edgier than Matchbox 20.

The album opens with the raucous “Black River Bridge,” which tears through its surprisingly long 4:49 run time. This song sounds shorter than it is and Emmerick and County keeps the rock gods appeased in this opening track. However, the gods will smite the next song, “Fall to the Leaves,” that sounds only remotely rock and simply tries too hard with forced guitar solos that seem out of place in the factory-sealed blandness that is this song.

On a slower note, “Intentions Fade” brings about apparitions of The Eagles and manages to keep a toe-tapping tempo going as Emmerick sings about death and mourning. The bluegrass edge to this song is a welcome addition to the album as most of the other tracks sound they could have come from anywhere. This one is unique and the talent the band put into this one shows.

As the album progresses, the rock and roll punch that made the opening track so fun transforms into straight up steel guitar old-school country on “Chapter and Verse.” For the fan of country a la George Strait and early Alan Jackson, this song will certainly appeal to their roots. This is also the best written song on the album as Emmerick sings about the failings of his personal religion and how faith can be do good in the world but can also be a very dangerous tool that some will use to put down others.

“North” could have closed on a stronger note than “Mercy,” which clocks in at 6:34 – far too long for a closing track. This song could have benefited off some of the energy from the opening, which would have been appropriate close to this sometimes loud, sometimes ponderous album.

With something for everyone, Tim Emmerick and Cold Front County promises something for everyone who are fans of the country rock and what falls in between. The tracks on this album that are good are really good and the tracks that are mediocre are really mediocre. There are no horrible songs on this album but some are certainly better than others. Its too bad Emmerick couldn’t keep up the energy through the whole album that he opened with. They should take a note out of Skynyrd’s and George Strait’s book – the tradition from both old country and southern rock could make this album much better than it is.