Album review – Cody Canada & The Departed’s “Soul Gravy 2022”

If you pronounce the name Cross Canadian Ragweed, you’ll capture the red dirt fans’ attention. And if you use another magic word, “Soul Gravy“, you’ll probably see their face light up instantly. That’s an understatement saying that this album is absolutely iconic, since it was released in 2004. If you talk with red dirt fans, some of them may probably tell you that “Soul Gravy” was behind their love for the genre.

Well? Cross Canadian Ragweed broke up 12 years ago, but Cody Canada and the Departed brought back to life this album with a new version released in July. Recorded in New Braunfels, it was produced by Mike McClure, just as the original record. But why “Soul Gravy“, now in 2022 ?

There are some legal considerations. During its 16 years of existence, Cross Canadian Ragweed released almost all its music via Universal South Records: this was the case for its self-titled album (also known as “the Purple Album“, in 2002), “Soul Gravy” (2004), “Garage” (2005), “Mission California” (2007) and “Happiness and All the Other Things” (2009). After the band broke up, the music stayed with the label, and Cody Canada wanted to take control back of the songs that Cross Canadian Ragweed had created.

But beyond this situation, there’s another important reason: Cody Canada was never satisfied with the way that had been recorded the original album. Due to the lot of gigs that the band did at the moment of the recording, the band had to make some concessions, for example using digital amp modelers. So, this new version was an opportunity, for Cody Canada and the Departed to record the original songs with complete freedom.

The result of this work is great, particularly with the guitars. No need to mention all those great songs that y’all know and are now a great part of red dirt music history. There’s “Alabama“, “Lonely Girl“, “Flowers“, “Number“, “Cold Hearted Woman“. There’s the fantastic “Sick and Tired“, feat Lee Ann Womack. There’s a unique version of “Wanna Rock n Roll“, feat Ray Wylie Hubbard, whose voice is just so impressive. You also need to listen the new version of “Hammer Down“, particularly brilliant. The truth is that this rejuvenated version of the original “Soul Gravy” sounds better than ever.

To be complete about the modern story of “Soul Gravy“, it’s also important to talk about an album named “The Years: A MusicFest Tribute to Cody Canada and the Music of Cross Canadian Ragweed“, released on January 8th 2021. This fantastic album contains two beautiful covers of “Soul Gravy” songs, “Sick and Tired“, featuring Jamie Lin Wilson, and “Alabama“, featuring Courtney Patton. After listening to the new version of “Soul Gravy“, don’t forget to listen to “The Years“, because it’s another way to lose yourself in the beautiful universe of one of the greatest red dirt bands that ever existed.

Now, what about new music for Cody Canada and the Departed? In 2021 and 2022, they released two amazing singles, “Shut Up And Sing“, feat Kaitlin Butts and Todd Snider, and a fantastic cover of a classic red dirt song, “If You Want It That Much“, reviewed on this blog there. Let’s see if they release a new album soon. But for now, we can be very satisfied with the new version of “Soul Gravy“. Long live to red dirt music!

Nicolas Davelu

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