Satellite Inn – Cold Morning Songs

Satellite Inn
Cold Morning Songs

What do you think of when you hear the label “Americana,” which has been applied to bands like Wilco, Sun Volt, Uncle Tupelo, and similar bands? Well, probably American. Heh, jokes on you! Cuz foreigners can do that style just as well! And Satellite Inn prove it. This album evokes images of farms and country fairs in the midwest, not vineyards and old Cathedrals of Italy.

Of course, you wouldn’t know that Satellite Inn was from Forli, Italy, just by listening to them. Because they have pretty well got the Americana style down pat. Americana – also known as alt-country – for those unfamiliar, has been used to describe a style of rock that is heavily influenced by Southern folk, bluegrass, and similar styles. It does lean heavier toward the pop/rock category, however, as bands like the aforementioned have shown. Satellite Inn nod to Uncle Tupelo as one of their biggest influences, and that’s easy to hear. But, I almost think Satellite Inn want to strip the music down to its roots even more than Tupelo usually did. That’s not a bad thing, because they have enough talent to do it.

“Silent Town” shows just how well this band knows the style of music. Southern-accented vocals with some twangs, twangy guitar, folk-inspired rhythms, and even the lyrics themselves. But “Sometimes in the Morning” is more of a bluegrass song than anything else, even throwing in some fiddle with the acoustic guitar. “Same Pictures Abound” is more of a ballad, soft guitar and banjo accompanying the singer’s heartfelt vocals. I have to say, this is probably one of my favorite tracks, and when the harmonica comes in, I can’t help but draw comparisons to Neil Young’s timeless ballads. “Who Are You to Say for Sure?” starts off rather tedious, but it comes on as strong as any Sun Volt song, the drumwork in the chorus just short of knock-your-socks-off. Some of these songs suffer from the problem that most alt-country music suffers, in my mind, and that’s that they start to all sound alike. “No Way Out,” “2,000 Miles,” and “This Barstool” have all the acoustic and steel guitars, banjo, soft violin, and even harmonica. The vocals are fine, but they tend to blend into one folk/country-influenced song that doesn’t stand out with me. However, the last track, “Dreamer,” is good enough to compensate. This heartfelt pop-ballad has beautiful violin and beautiful guitar with impassioned vocals.

Apparently, Satellite Inn were not well-liked in their foreign country even as they gathered fans all over Australia and other English-speaking countries. Just recently has their bend on music come to be appreciated in their native Italy. It’s probably not often you hear an European band playing music that is so heavily influenced by American country and folk music. But then, it’s their choice. As long as they can do it well, which they do, Satellite Inn should be commended for staying true to themselves. And you have to commend MoodFood for releasing the album in the US, where it should be appreciated more than anywhere else.