Each style of music has it’s set of characteristics. Cliches and stereotypes aside, it’s just part of the package. You can be a punk without donning a mohawk. You don’t have to be from the east or west coast to be a rapper. Yet these stereotypes help a listener determine what an album might sound like just by looking at it. When I saw the LP cover art for Sincerely Yours by George Cessna, I assumed it was going to be a traditional country western album. I was only half right.
Sincerely Yours is the kind of album that coddles stereotypes while crushing them.
“I carry a very serious love/hate relationship with country music,” Cessna says when I asked him about what kind of music is found on Sincerely Yours. “I wanted to capture the songwriting and storytelling elements of the country music that inspires me. Somewhat critically and always honestly. To wallow and laugh at your own misery, coupled with the longing to escape, sometimes through self-pity or subtle humor.” he adds. “But part of me really just set out to make a country album and this was the best I could do.”
There’s plenty of standard country vibes to be had throughout the record. From the Hank Williams flavored “It’s Alright” to the traditional Americana ballad “Jersey Girl”, Cessna shuffles along with modest acoustic and familiar steel guitar. Even a delightful cover of Roger Miller’s “Dang Me”. It hits all the notes you would want to hear while looking at the cover art. However, there’s a David Lynch side to the album that plays against the comfort of familiarity. Under a few layers, Sincerely Yours is a darker tale.
Unexpected twist and turns throughout the narrative sets Cessna apart from mainstream country artists.
My favorite track is “Leave Me Alone”. The reverb tinged guitar and aggressive vocal delivery is accentuated by a droning harmonica note, giving it an unexpected shoegaze vibe. Yet early on in the album there’s a Daniel Johnston-esque “For The Country Singers” sounding as if recorded on the family room couch. I asked Cessna if this was part of the master plan;
“Both I guess! I did all the recording myself through a number of different processes and methods. It helps give the album a narrative quality I enjoy. I’m still very much an amateur when it comes to recording and I have issues making a whole album sound consistent. Beyond and including technical reasons. Instead of getting mad at myself, I’ve learned to try to use it to my advantage. Let it become part of the process and the story, which in this case starts very large and aggressive on the ‘sunset’ side, and becomes much smaller and more personal on the ‘sunrise’ section.”
Despite the various recording technique, the best way to here the album is on vinyl.
Cessna is in good company, as Sincerely Yours has been issued on vinyl for the very first through Fonoflo Records. A label that’s home to other do-it-yourself alternative country artists such as Riverhorse and Tennessee Jet. “Nicholas from Fonoflo found my music over the internet, and he emailed me asking about a vinyl release for Sincerely Yours. I was flattered and surprised; I hadn’t really thought about the album in a long while. It was being recorded right around this time, three years ago. He did an incredible job with it, and it does my heart good to have it properly released.” Cessna explains.
Just as with previous releases throughout the label, Fonflo is pulling out all the stops for it’s vinyl release. From ‘Rosewood’, ‘Colorado Kool-Aid’ variants to splatters. Even a liquid filled variant ‘Beers and Tears’, Fonoflo has spared no expense bringing this underground gem to life in the format it was destined for.
For more information on George Cessna, please visit him on Bandcamp
To purchase Sincerely Yours on limited edition vinyl, please visit Fonoflo Records