As I think I mentioned yesterday, my kid’s got a hankering for the 1950s, and that hankering has sort of rubbed off on me a little bit. NOLA’s Nick Shoulders and the Okay Crawdad scratch that itch in a major way for me with their boot-stompin’ old-timey country-and-western music, the kind that was incredibly popular when my dad was a kid. You know, like Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, even Elvis to a degree. (Shoulders and crew covered “Black Star” on Lonely Like Me.) Their modern update on the style sends shivers of nostalgia down my spine, and surely my dad’s were he here. (He’s fine, he’s just not sitting in the room with me.)

Okay Crawdad marks Nick’s first foray into full-length-album territory, and it’s a doozy! The band is in fine form, pining lonesomely when called to do, kicking up dust when required. Shoulders’s syrupy tenor slips easily into a yodel when the spirit hits him, and he’s not afraid to unironically whistle a melody. There’s even an instrumental surf number that’d set ol’ Link Wray’s toes a-tapping. And while it might be tempting to slap Shoulders and crew with the “hipster country” label, the utter sincerity in the songwriting (or at least dedication to the style) make that a fool’s errand in the end – still, it’s hard not to notice the mustache and mullet, period-inappropriate accoutrements when constructing a 1950s aesthetic.

But that’s water under the sawmill, and it’s almost impossible to shake the dust from those boots the band just kicked up in the previous paragraph. Like a soft horse blanket, Okay Crawdad slips on your mount and provides comfort for those long prairie saunters, out over the hills and fields. However, instead of over a genuine leather saddle, it nestles into a yellow sport Walkman from which protrude a set of ten-gallon headphones, and you can continue on with it even when the trail comes to an end. That’s the beauty of Okay Crawdad – it’s a universal reminder that adventure through the wilderness to frontier towns and settlements is only a “press Play” away!

Finally, in case you’re wondering, as I did, whether this should be filed under Nick Shoulders and the Okay Crawdad (like Lonely Like Me) or just Nick Shoulders, the j-card will not provide any answers! Just know that the Okay Crawdad is sometimes just Nick on his own. (Although he’s got a band here.)