Lately I’ve noticed that the musicians we’ve come to love around these parts have been leaning more towards a big, spacey sound that evokes the country music of the 1970s — as well as the psychedelics that accompanied it. I’m certainly into it; after all, that punk crunch that made me fall in love with the first place is evocative of an emotional space that neither I nor my favorite artists inhabit anymore; I don’t feel like a hot mess who might be spinning my wheels and neither do most of my idols. But that doesn’t mean my country couldn’t use a crisp kickdrum.
Charlie Overbey’s steeped in both punk and country. A real-life outlaw, Overbey has toured alongside Social Distortion, David Allan Coe, and Lemmy himself. While the songs themselves recall some high-octane memories of the touring life, the songs themselves are expansive and thoughtful country. Throughout Broken Arrow, Overbey explores mortality and the inevitability of change. The opener, “Slip Away” delves into the suicide of a young woman. “This Old House” is a gutting song about the death of a beloved parent. But it’s not all bad news — “Outlaws,” which features the talents of the Mastersons — hints at Overbey’s time on the lam, while “Echo” recalls younger wilder days when LA looked very different to the native Angelino. The two themes intertwine in the album’s keystone, “The Ballad of Eddie Spaghetti,” which features the man himself. It’s a British two-finger salute to the old Grim Reaper, full of defiance and — more importantly — warmth. Broken Arrow is the observations of a man who’s seen a whole lot of life, and it’s a prism that helps anyone who listens focus their appreciation of what we’ve got.