Oklahoma's Red Dirt Report reviews GABF!

CD REVIEW: Drivin' N' Cryin' - Great American Bubble Factory (Vintage Earth) 2009

By Andrew W. Griffin

Red Dirt Report, editor

Posted: July 23, 2010


Kevn Kinney, lead singer of the Georgia rock band Drivin' N' Cryin', has a voice that over the years has grown noticeably more nasal and somewhat on the annoying side. Yes, this is a difficult admission to make but it is the awful truth. Kinney is not Barry White and never will be. He's not even Chris Robinson. He's just a guy who has been pounding away in this mixed-bag-of-a-classic-styled-rock-band for 25 years now and has proven that he has the stones to mix rock, blues, folk and country into a very distinctive sound.

That said, last year, Kinney and his band - including bassist Tim Nielsen, guitarist Mac Carter and drummer Dave V. Johnston got together and recorded Great American Bubble Factory. And what you hear, as Kinney noted in a recent interview, is that it is a "working class operetta" that uses Drivin' N' Cryin's distinctive mix of rock, punk, blues, folk and country - Americana - to get their message across.

And it's not a particuarly sunny message. Kinney and the boys are upset over the course of the 12 songs onBubble Factory. The recent economic collapse is wreaking havoc on just about everybody. Kinney focuses on the small towns and the factory towns in a way that Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel and many others did over a quarter-century ago.

The sax-fueled power pop of the title track, "(Whatever Happened to the) Great American Bubble Factory" is Kinney's way of asking, "Where has our manufacturing base gone?" "Why do we have to get everything from China, like a container of bubbles down at the dollar store?" These are good questions and Kinney is one of the few in modern music asking them.

Times are tough. Kinney knows that. Just check out "Preapproved, Predenied," a song that could have been just as easily recorded by fellow Georgians the Drive-By Truckers as it was with DNC. Kinney truly feels for the down-n-outters, the marginalized and the ones that are simply ignored by the politicians and plutocrats. Another great Kinney number.

Shades of Paul Westerberg can be heard on "Midwestern Blues" or the Replacements-styled "The Hardest Part," while Kinney's folkier side is evident on the mandolin-infused "Don't You Know That I Know That You Know?" and the superb "This Town," a song that showcases Kinney's love of small-town America. One of the best in the DNC catalog.

While the lyrics to "I Stand Tall," an old Dictators song, are a bit cheesy and on the anthemic side, it's a punchy song that works well on this collection.

And while we're on the subject of Kinney's love of America, let's note "Detroit City," a shout-out to the Motor City that has certainly seen better days. Drivin' N' Cryin' are in full AC/DC mode on this track.

And while I love classic DNC albums like '89's Mystery Road or 91's Fly Me CourageousGreat American Bubble Factory has it's own charm and a finger on the pulse of what is happening in America right now.

Oh, and Kinney's voice will grow on you after repeated listenings. The album is really that good. Don't miss Great American Bubble Factory.

Grade - B+

For more information go to www.drivinncryin.com.

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