Blake Rainey and His Demons – Helicopter Rose

Blake Rainey, a Cedartown native and longtime member of Atlanta’s Young Antiques and All Night Drug Prowling Wolves, knows a thing or two about Southern roots music. Like many from Northwest Georgia, he has family members that regularly sing in Baptist churches. Those same relatives’ limited secular music diet was filled with the Hag, the Possum, and of course Luke the Drifter.

On his latest solo effort with backing band the Demons, titled Helicopter Rose, he’s louder and prouder of his roots than ever before. He’s always loved The Clash and probably digs Springsteen – an artist who deserves more credit for the rocking approach and cosmopolitan attitudes of the Sturgill Simpsons and Jason Isbells of Americana. Now Rainey’s songwriting is informed by the barroom ballads and bitter breakup songs he’s heard his whole life.

Forlorn tales of redemption and emotional rescue dominate the album. Opener “Dear Brother” tells of a lost brother, likely away at war, on the minds of loved ones as they gather at a local watering hole. “Losing My Way” makes some of those same tests of faith and sanity inner-personal.

As for throwback nods to country, “Go Find Yourself Another Barroom” is a tale of a town not big enough for two stubborn varmits that would’ve fit most any country songbook, from Hank’s to Buck’s to King George’s. Every country fan I know, Mama included, will get what Blake has to say with this one loud and clear.

It’s not all country and western nostalgia, as “Mulholland Square,” which rides a smooth bass groove, and the more pop-accessible and horn-driven “Trouble on Holiday” are both strong additions to Rainey’s arsenal of rock songs.

The countrification of Rainey’s music comes at a good time. Americana, a broad term that can include some of Tom Petty’s music, everything Rodney Crowell has ever touched, and whatever Bon Iver is supposed to be, has its own Billboard chart. Chris Stapleton somehow seems less out of place on a pop-country awards show than Beyoncé. People are giving this type of music a chance without fear they’ll turn into rednecks (although some of you should give it a try). Rainey is doing as well as anyone in-state at striking while the iron is hot, giving us country traditionalists around town a solid, story-based album to boast as our own.

Blake Rainey and His Demons
Helicopter Rose
[Southern Lovers Recording Co.]