I have a heretofore unwritten rule that I reject any submissions where a man sings about a Tragic Woman. The Tragic Woman is usually described as beautiful but a hot mess and everyone knows it. The invariably male narrator is usually watching her from a distance in a bar or at a party and decides, possibly against his better judgment, to take her home anywhere. The story usually ends there, though sometimes they fall in love. Otherwise it's a shitshow but he knows that's how it was going to turn out.
First of all, men, there is all kinds of tragicomic bullshit you can call out amongst yourselves. Secondly, taking home someone who's more fucked up than you is the very definition of rape culture. Don't. Do. It. Thirdly, there aren't that many songs out there where women sing about men being sloppy-ass messes. In fact, they're usually sad songs about how she should have known better. There is, of course, "Don't Go Home A Drinkin,'" but that scolds the Tragic Man. It's not about how much fun Loretta was having. Songs about the Tragic Woman are often fun and celebratory. Because you're about to sleep someone who isn't able to give full consent.
All of this is to say that I managed not to hold it against Jason Springs for leading off his debut album with a Tragic Woman song. "Danville in the Dust" is a fun song to rock to, but it was Springs' wild delivery, reminiscent of Matt Woods, that impressed me enough to overlook the content. (And this is hardly Springs' fault -- the Tragic Woman is a long tradition that I hope, like murder ballads, will die off soon.)
That all being said (sorry, Jason), Blue Collar Bones is a hell of an album and an excellent debut. Springs can battle it out with the best of them. Any fan of John Moreland, Cory Branan, or Matt Woods will find themselves at home with Springs. Springs' descriptions of an aimless-seeming life down South are poignant and hard-hitting. While this may be Springs' first record, it's certainly not his first collection of songs. We often get the sense that he's pleasantly surprised to see he made it out of his twenties in one piece. Most importantly, he's proud of where he's gotten and it's that sense of celebration that makes Blue Collar Bones an exhilarating listen. Springs has a bright future ahead of him, and I'm excited to see where he and his guitar travel next.
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