Legends of Country is an indiepop album with country stylings - twangy guitars, sighing pedal steel, delicate Chet Atkins-style finger-picking - from Jof Owen, formerly of The Boy Least Likely To. It’s a very English, affectionate and all-embracing take on the whole country movement, the title track heading for Whitstable rather than Nashville and reeling out a list of sorta-country influences, including Willie and Waylon, Little House On The Prairie and “the myth of Stagger Lee”.
The themes are mature, like the best of country. The wistful ‘Forty In The Spring’ acknowledges the ageing process, though not without caveats (“I never grew up, I just got older”) while ‘The Saturday Dads’ is a sad meditation from a divorced dad talking his son to the park. Throughout, there’s a sense of opportunities and youth pissed away, including, on ‘It’s A Long Way Back From A Dream’, the tale of darts ace Richie Burnett, who went from Frimley Green world champion to dole and divorce in the Rhondda Valley as a result of his arrows obsession.
As you’d expect though from half of The Boy Least Likely To, there are fine tunes and smart words. ‘Turn To Dolly’, co-written with his former TBLLT partner Pete Hobbs, confesses his youthful dependence on country music and a roll call of female superheroes (from Dolly Parton and Buffy Summers to Amelia Fletcher and Kathleen Hanna) while ‘As Country As They Come’ is spicy Tex-Mex and ‘Jelly And Jam’ is indiepop gold, wearing its country duds lightly. It’s no album for purists but, for those whose stetson sports a Pastels badge, it’s inspired, thought-provoking pop and a serious amount of fun.