When the members Cross Canadian Ragweed decided to shift gears and word soon leaked out about Cody Canada’s new project, The Departed, that would feature Jeremy Plato and some of the most accomplished musicians to be found anywhere the buzz was immediate. Fans wondered what would this band sound like, what would their first studio project be and how long before we could put our hands on it?
Owning up to a promise Canada made at the height of Ragweed’s rise to do a covers album of the Oklahoma/Red Dirt music that influenced him so much, and in his words “changed his life”, The Departed set out to tackle 16 blistering tracks of powerful Red Dirt history.
Songs like “Water Your Own Yard” and “Face On Mars” (written by Randy Crouch) had really only lived in the land of yesteryear nostalgic lore until given new life by The Departed. “The Ballad of Rosalie” is a rollicking tale of a fast-lane music career as seen through the personified eyes of a pawn shop guitar. Hints of steel guitar mingle with a driving rhythm guitar to make the listener truly feel the heightened emotions the protagonist is feeling in the lyrics. “True Love Never Dies” is bolstered by a swampy, 70’s Jerry Reed-esque guitar and some of Littleton’s most inventive keywork and ends up sounding like a Little Feat B-side just now being released…which is what I think they were going for.
“Long Way To Nowhere” greets you like a familiar Joe Walsh era-Eagles song you’d forgotten about with tight harmonies, lyrics about wanderlust and killer riffs throughout. “Staring Down the Sun” works on many levels and it takes several spins for the lyrics to sink in…and even then you may not be truly sure what’s going on. The entire tune from start to finish sounds like a John Ford western set to music. “A Little Rain Will Do” is one of the most timely songs ever released in Red Dirt music. Although it is set in the Great Depression, the problems detailed in the song sound an awful lot like what’s going on in the country today, and it packs a powerful punch. The set closes with an homage to the recently passed Oklahoma country music stalwart Mel McDaniel with a cover of his 80’s hit “Stand Up” that has been a live staple for several years now.
Speaking of the aforementioned Little Feat and the Eagles, the general sound of this album is evocative of the best of 70’s rock…and that’s a good thing. This project harkens back to the golden ages of music in all ways. It’s a passion project plied with top-flight musicians who take turns on lead vocals, grand songwriting and warm vibes…three ingredients often not put together enough in modern music. Luckily for the listener, Canada and company have found this golden combination on This Is Indian Land.
Seth James on guitar, Littleton keys, (incidentally the songwriter of “Any Other Way”), and Dave Bowen on drums joined Canada and Plato to deliver a greater sonic experience than what Ragweed had been. Bigger production and sound is found on this record without losing any of Canada’s signature intensity and grit which is a testament to the players and Canada himself for successfully chasing a daunting muse. This Is Indian Land is a triumph on many levels and easily establishes The Departed as a formidable measuring stick that all Red Dirt and Texas bands must measure up to going forward.