Shaped and inspired by the American South, The Savage Radley is the brainchild of Shaina Goodman, a Kentucky-raised songwriter and Delta farmer's daughter whose music stomps, twangs, and bangs with all the power of her homeland.
"We're not throwback country," she says of her band, a group of pickers and pounders who add electricity, elasticity and grit to her songs. "We're not looking to be in the mainstream, either. We just want to fill our own corner of this Americana southern landscape."
Fueled by electric guitar, pedal steel, piano, and the percussion of former punk drummer and longtime band member Stephen Montgomery, the songs on the Savage Radley's debut album, Kudzu, tell the story of a modern-day South. This is raw, ragged, rock-influenced roots music, with Goodman singing about the land she knows — a land nearly forgotten, tucked away along the banks of the Mississippi River — in a voice caught halfway between a wail and a warble. Different in scope and sound from the music emanating from the nearby country capital of the world, Nashville TN, Kudzu was recorded in western Kentucky, with producer Skylar Wilson (Justin Townes Earle, Caitlin Rose, Andrew Combs) traveling from Tennessee to work with the band.
Kudzu isn't some nostalgia project, meant to evoke the mid-century charm of country music's golden years. It's modern. It's progressive. Kicking off with the guitar-heavy "Gone," Kudzu shines a light on love and life in rural America. "Little River Town" tells the story of Goodman's grandparents, former sharecroppers who transformed themselves into owners of a large farming operation, while "Slough Water" — equal parts piano ballad, folk song and secular gospel tune — finds the singer longing for the muddy, therapeutic water of the Mississippi River. Along the way, the Savage Radley kicks up plenty of dust with the fuzzy, fiery "Worm (On Hot Pavement)," casts a spooky spell during "Blood Money," rides a four-on-the-floor groove during the short, stomping "Hammers," and slows down the pace with the tormented love ballad "Milk and Honey."
Mixing the storytelling tradition of classic southern writers with an amped-up soundcheck, Goodman views Kudzu as another step toward the band becoming part of "a new wave of Southern rock." It's an album about where she's from, stacked with songs that point to where she's going.
"I'm a real farmer's daughter, singing about the things I know," she explains. "It's not hard to share my sense of place when I know figuratively and literally how a patch of land holds a world together."