By SEAN MCQUADE
Sarah Peacock’s solid set at The Underground last Tuesday night, Sept. 13, reminded everyone in the room of the simple joys of country music and the redemptive power of introspective songwriting. From beginning to end, Peacock balanced standard country-pop song structures with deeply personal lyrics, hitting a sweet spot between catchy and meaningful.
After a brief description of her life, the music started with “Cast My Line,” a song that utilized classic country imagery (going on a fishing trip) to describe some romantic feelings that Peacock had experienced. Immediately, one was struck by both the simplicity and subtlety of the song itself, along with the obvious musical talent possessed by Peacock.
Both of these impressions were further reinforced on the following song, “Dry Spell.” In this one, Peacock wrote with conviction and vivid imagery about her relationship with God and with life itself. She also showed off her unexpectedly impressive range on a vocal run near the song’s end.
Following “Dry Spell” was “I’m Not Just a Country Song” and “Rio Grande,” two more chronicles of past emotions expressed in expert fashion. Both provided a realistic view of love, reminding all listeners that love is never as clear cut as many of us would like to believe. “I’m Not Just a Country Song” took the go-to topic of most modern country music: cheating, and flipped it on its head by offering a second chance to the offender, instead of jumping straight to keying his car door. “Rio Grande” continued this line of thought by proclaiming that love is worth fighting for, and that the struggle involved is what makes it real.
Before ending her set with a trio of blue-collar pride songs dealing in wild-child country girl behavior, redneck pride and blue jeans, Peacock played a cover of Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” and her own lead single, “Georgia.” Her stripped down, simple arrangement of “Need You Now” improved upon the original (which, to be fair, isn’t hard to do), and set the stage nicely for the straightforward country-pop shout out to her home state that was “Georgia.”
Peacock’s set revealed the bare bones of the mainstream country music of today.
Nobody’s life was changed by the performance, but a little bit of faith was restored in the genre itself, as listeners were reminded that underneath the multitude of unnecessary layers of production heaped on top of radio friendly country music, there are still songs that can be connected with; there are still real emotions hidden under the gloss.
Image courtesy of Jordon Kyler