John Sanger – Cirrhosis of the River/Daises/Lemonade/Sit N Spin

John Sanger is one of those rare country/blues singers who really feels the music they’re performing. You can feel it in the jovial, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and funky guitar playing. “Cirrhosis of the River” is a song that offers a melody and lyrics just as bizarre as the title, but I mean that in the best way possible. As I said, there’s such a fun, energetic vibe to this track. I love the guitar licks and bends — there’s some fantastic acoustic and electric guitar playing. And the twangs of Sanger’s voice are oozing with authentic country vibes. That’s what I meant when I said that you can tell when an artist in this genre really feels the music. It’s such feel-good, lighthearted music that it calls for a feel-good, lighthearted, but meaningful performance. You can tell that Sanger feels every single note he’s singing. Country music is about more than the notes and chords being played. It’s about the feeling. Three chords and the truth. Sanger is definitely a prime example of that.

“Daisies” is a different beast entirely. Sanger tries his hand at balladry, and he proves that he can deliver a sentimental song, as well as a fun and upbeat sone. His vocals carry such weight on this track. Again, it’s about more than the chords and the vocal melody — it’s about the way in which they’re delivered. There’s some spectacular harmonizing with an unnamed female vocalist, and it serves the song so beautifully — it works twice as well as a duet. Small flourishes, such as harmonica solos, really bring the song together. It gives the track depth. There’s real heart in this one. Obviously, there was heart in the first track, but Sanger proves himself to be a multi-faceted artist on this slower, more melancholic song.

“Lemonade” is a return to feel-good country energy. A fast-paced drum beat serves as the foundation to catchy, banjo-esque, high-fretted, acoustic guitar. There’s more fantastic vocal harmonizing, though Sanger’s vocals definitely hake a sense of prominence on this track. I love the vocal melody, especially in the choruses — it perfectly blends with the chord progression. But my favorite aspects of this song have to be the instrumental aspects that give it flair. Sanger’s guitar playing, as I said, really sounded banjo-esque on this track — I actually had to check the video to ensure that I was still listening to acoustic guitar. He really had me for a second. Acoustic guitar is an instrument that often sounds the same in this genre, so kudos to Sanger for playing it skillfully and keeping the instrument sounding fresh.

“Sit N Spin” is a great tune. Again, there’s harmonizing from an unnamed female vocalist, and her voice beautifully complements Sanger’s singing. They bring out the best in each other — their timbres gel sublimely. But this is more of a rock ballad. There’s energetic electric guitar and twangy lead guitar hooks that give the song a soaring energy. The highlight of the track, by a country mile, has to be Sanger’s vocals towards the end of the song. My word. He delivers a spectacular falsetto out of nowhere. It really brings the track to a fantastic climax. He’d delivered brilliant vocals on the other three songs, of course, but that was the moment at which I truly appreciated the versatility of his voice. What a way to close the track and the album.

Zachary Rush