Everything’s Different in the Night
3½ stars (out of 5)
By Donald Teplyske
In the month that country music lost Merle Haggard, it seems appropriate that Nudie—Matt Putnam—releases an album.
Based in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Nudie makes music that delves into the Bakersfield-style of country popularised by Haggard, Buck Owens, Tony Booth, and Bobby Austin four and more decades ago. Despite appearances, Nudie is no retro tribute act and the music on Everything’s Different in the Night bears resemblance to no one so much as Marty Stuart, himself a purveyor of good taste and impeccable country chops.
Less contrived perhaps than his previous release Why Do We Keep Hanging On?, Everything’s Different in the Night retains that album’s focus on doing country music correctly, but without falling into clichéd trappings. The album kicks off convincingly with the catchy “It Ain’t Gonna Happen Today,” an ode to the country music triumvirate of Woulda, Coulda, and Shoulda, featuring guest appearances by cigarettes, alcohol, and heartache.
For those who have appreciation for clever song writing (think Slaid Cleaves and Chuck Brodsky) and unassuming presentations (Mike Plume, Joe Ely, and Otis Gibbs) Nudie should be of interest. In fine tradition, Nudie’s protagonists are not the most sensible thinking fellows. Cashing pay checks while drinking (“The Royal Tavern,”) figuring out reality through trial and error (“I Had to Learn about Sheila the Hard Way,”) and reliving the same mistakes (“I’ve Been Here Before”) provide the fodder for Nudie’s barstool philosophy.
Duetting with Sylvie Smith (“Mr. Why’d You Come to Texas?”) and augmented by Melissa Payne (“Island Girls” and the gorgeous title track) adds dimension to the testosterone-heavy performances. The very early Delbert McClinton song “If You Really Want Me To I’ll Go,” the album’s only non-original, is a deft choice; with straight forward instrumentation, lyrics, and melody, the song provides a complementary image to Nudie’s compositions.
Not pretending to be more than he is, Nudie understands the core of country music and performs it to an impressive level. Everything’s Different in the Night is a stellar recording.