Legends Of Country are an English alt-country band formed by Jof Owen from The Boy Least Likely To. Inspired by a long standing love of country music and memories of growing up watching Pebble Mill and listening to Johnny Cash and George Hamilton IV, their songs combine a classic old country sound with an honest and unmistakeable English pop charm. Heartfelt and uplifting with a truckload of chicken pickin' and country swagger thrown in.
Their debut album, Talk About Country was released last year to glowing reviews and great support at radio from Bob Harris on Radio 2, playlisted on Chris Country Radio, Baylen Leonard on Amazing Radio and Cerys Matthews on 6 music, as well as other roots and country shows across the UK and the Rough Trade shop in London. The Saturday Dads was also the Record Of The Week on Absolute Radio. They’ve played headline shows across London at The Social, The Barfly, The Ace Hotel, Rough Trade East, The Lexington, The Slaughtered Lamb and the legendary What’s Cookin’ night, as well as supporting Cale Tyson and Karl Blau in the UK and appearing at Maverick Festival and Truck Festival.
The album includes the singles Talk About Country, It's A Long Way Back From A Dream, The Saturday Dads and Jelly And Jam. With Duane Eddy style guitar, pedal steel and mariachi trumpets blasting away, the title track is a role call of "country" icons from Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings and Loretta Lynn to darts player Jocky Wilson and the beat writer Carolyn Cassady, while It's A Long Way Back From A Dream tells the story of the darts player, Richie Burnett, driving down from South Wales as the defending champion to compete in the 1996 World Darts Championship in Surrey on New Years Eve. He ended up losing the final and fourteen years later he was living on the dole in the Rhondda Valley, struggling to make ends meet after he had quit the sport entirely, unable to balance his darts career with his day job and failing marriage.
Jof Owen grew up in Wendover, a small market town nestled in the Chiltern Hills, and his ironically understated and reflective lyrics have taken on an almost Larkinesque quality on this record, writing about the absurdities of modern life and middle age, the depressing reality of ageing and the frustrating responsibilities of adulthood. Colloquial and quintessentially English - full of references to A roads and seaside towns, little chefs and Benson and Hedges - it's an album about small town success and the failure that often follows, about finding love late in life and looking back on what might have been. Sad but in a funny way, full of knowing humour and hope.
From the playful Tex-Mex of As Country As They Come to the zydeco infused shuffle of If I Knew What I Was Doing I'd Be Dangerous, the album passionately embraces a host of country styles peppering them with a hint of jangly C86 derived indiepop. The stark Americana of The Saturday Dads is a poignant reflection on absent fathers and rainy afternoons in the park.
Elsewhere, he lugubriously embrace middle age on Old Guns and the triumphant Forty In The Spring, celebrating his mid-life crisis with whiskey and Wellbutrin and a wardrobe full of unflattering clothes. Turn To Dolly, which looks back on a childhood spent alone, finding comfort in country music and female superheroines, was co-written with Pete Hobbs, the musical half of The Boy Least Likely To.
The album is available on cd, vinyl and download on the Talk About Country label. Aside from the tongue-in-cheek band name, the only hint of irony here derives from the fact that one of the most exciting country records of last year came out of North London, not Nashville.
“One of the most charming debuts we've heard all year” - The Line Of Best Fit
“Manages to successfully anglicise Nashville’s ability to universalise heartbtreak” - Uncut
“Legends Of Country twang, finger-pick and joke ruefully along familiar country lines but with a local, indie-pop twist ” - Metro
“Pulp playing the Grand Ole Opry” - Narc
“A very shrewdly observed overview of modern day living and a lesson in life” - Fatea Magazine