“Wild One” – Those Darlins (Appalachian authenticity, with attitude)

“Wild One” – Those Darlins
     Take the Appalachian back-porch music of the Carter family and paste a Lily Allen-style 21st-century 20-something’s attitude on top of it and here we are. This is not complicated stuff, but it’s utterly charming, somehow. To begin with, there’s something wonderful in the air when you’re hearing three women, employing a hillbilly melody, accompanied by retro-sounding rhythm and lead guitars (plus, a ukulele in the mix), singing words like this: “If you can’t handle crazy/Go ahead and leave/If you don’t want a wild one/Quit hangin’ round with me.” It’s hard enough to combine the contemporary and the traditional in a way that respects both; it’s particularly hard to do so and come up with something fun. (Usually you end up with “earnest” in such instances.) (Not that there’s anything wrong with earnest, but fun is, well, more fun.)
     Based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Those Darlins are three women who go by the names Nikki Darlin, Jessi Darlin, and Kelley Darlin, which also tells me that their historical respect extends likewise, and unexpectedly, onto the streets of downtown Manhattan in the mid-1970s, where a quartet of unrelated, black-leather-clad young men adopted the same last name and went on quite a tear themselves. (And what the heck: CBGB did, after all, stand for Country, Bluegrass, and Blues; I kid you not.) Maybe it’s their sense of history, or maybe it’s their sense of humor, or maybe it’s just their plain old sense, but I’m getting a deeper and stronger vibe out of this trio than I get from most of the other brassy 20-somethings who’ve flung themselves onto the scene over the last year or two. Showing an awareness of a wide world beyond the tips of their own noses (or the touch screens of their iPhones) is way more enticing than being snarky and fashionable. At least it is here.
     “Wild One” is the title track to the group’s first release, a three-song EP, which came out this fall on Oh Wow Dang Records, which I’m pretty sure is the band’s own label (information is scanty), but if not, with a name like that, it should be. Thanks to the mighty Largehearted Boy for the lead.

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