Teddy Russell – Young Love
Native Texan Teddy Russell’s single “Young Love”, culled from his debut solo release Texas Soul, bears a “country” label, but falls more squarely in the singer/songwriter camp than anywhere else while still bearing the tell tale signs of Americana themed music. The self taught guitarist has an obviously innate instinct for the mechanics of what makes a song work and manipulates those levers with the instincts of a seasoned veteran. His unique songwriting perspective comes through even on a relatively traditionally minded song It unravels at a languid pace, patiently developing its sound and melodic ideas, and Russell’s slightly stagy vocals are well in keeping with the country tradition while never striking a false note for listeners. The song’s archetypal title is a bit misleading; it’s not likely that Russell’s songwriting sensibility would ever allow him to indulge a conventional songwriting voice. Instead, “Young Love” rings out with the sort of individuality more common to the aforementioned singer/songwriter style than anything exclusively country.
Russell does an excellent job of invoking a classic southern sound without ever dating himself or the material. The natural wont of a serious young musician to invoke the past finds expression with Russell, but there’s always a sense of Russell using the tradition as a vehicle for his own personal expression rather than pinning butterflies under glass for a new generation of music fans. The production never smacks of Russell’s indie origins; instead, “Young Love” has an intimate feel from the first the production underlines without ever drawing too much attention to itself.
There’s a certain amount of quirkiness inherent to Russell’s talent, reflected in both the single’s cover and the song’s content, skewing the track’s identity without ever taking it too far afield of its aims. Russell’s obvious affection for the style comes through and proves to be a tight fit for his musical vision – every element of “Young Love” works in seamless accord with each other. It’s clear that Russell’s idea of what constitutes “texas soul” is a distinctly different proposition than what we’re accustomed to hearing from Texas born artists. The strong presence of pedal steel guitar in the song is so lovingly rendered that it dismisses any possibility of parody; there’s a woozy, three a.m. quality to the song, but it’s a more personal touch than a reflection of Russell’s regard for the country style.
“Young Love” is cut from its own individual cloth. There’s certainly a generalized influence from the past hanging over the arrangement, but you won’t be able to pin down any other voice in the mix beyond Russell’s and he has a bleary-eyed charisma that wins you over early on and never relinquishes your attention. It’s a relatively brief tune, as well, but the brevity reflects Teddy Russell’s focus on hitting his songwriting marks rather than a lack of something substantive to say. The latest musical export from Plainview, Texas is positioned to make an immediate impact on Americana music lovers and his talents as a singer/songwriter will only gain renown from this point forward.