Mark Utley | Bulletville

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Bulletville

by Mark Utley

Original country music in the classic honky tonk style; Male and female vocals backed by Telecaster, pedal steel, piano and organ.
Genre: Country: Honky Tonk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Good Timin' Girl
Mark Utley and Bulletville
3:59 $0.99
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2. Wish You Were Her
Mark Utley and Bulletville
3:43 $0.99
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3. Remember to Forget
Mark Utley and Bulletville
3:26 $0.99
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4. Firecracker
Mark Utley and Bulletville
3:36 $0.99
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5. Honey, I'm Home
Mark Utley and Bulletville
4:18 $0.99
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6. Jesus Wept
Mark Utley and Bulletville
3:57 $0.99
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7. Only in Our Minds
Mark Utley and Bulletville
4:04 $0.99
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8. One Heartbeat At a Time
Mark Utley and Bulletville
2:40 $0.99
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9. The Only Thing
Mark Utley and Bulletville
3:52 $0.99
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10. Four in the Morning
Mark Utley and Bulletville
4:49 $0.99
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11. Bluebird
Mark Utley and Bulletville
2:34 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
"As country as Country once was, bypassing the focus group-tested formula spoon fed to today’s commercial masses and served straight up. These songs are meant to be heard amidst both neon bar room glow and a barren moonlit road." - Bucket Full of Nails

Mark Utley and Bulletville performs straight-up Country music in the classic style. Originally formed as an offshoot of Magnolia Mountain, the band has now come into its own as a powerhouse live and studio outfit. The band features MM's Mark Utley, Renee Frye, Jeff Vanover, and Todd Drake, joined by bassist Ken Kimbrell, world-renowned keyboardist Ricky Nye and award-winng pedal steel guitarist John Lang.


From Paul Kerr, Blabber 'n' Smoke (Glasgow, Scotland): "Blabber’n’Smoke first came across Cincinnati’s Mark Utley when we reviewed Magnolia Mountain’s album Town And Country back in 2012. A double album that spanned the breadth of country rock from folky roots to grungier grooves, Town and Country was followed by Beloved (which delved into a Muscle Shoals direction), while Utley simultaneously released a solo album that hankered more to his country leanings. His next step was to form a band that would perform the country songs from the solo album and hence Bulletville was born. A splinter group of sorts Bulletville features Magnolia Mountain members Renee Frye (vocals), Jeff Vanover (guitar), and Todd Drake (drums), who are joined by bassist Ken Kimbrell, keyboardist Ricky Nye and pedal steel guitarist John Lang. Here they deliver a solid package of tear stained and heart wrenching country songs that run the gamut from George-and-Tammy- like laments to beer fuelled honky tonking gut busters fuelled by lashings of pedal steel.

The album opens with the loping bass into to "Good Timin’ Girl", a breeze of a song with a classic bittersweet country tale that could have been written by Dolly Parton and sung by Kenny Rogers, in fact if Rogers or any of his ilk ever took this on then it would be a guaranteed hit. As it is the performance here is exemplary, Utley almost croons the words while Frye adds a multtitracked refrain, the pedal steel is sweet and honeyed and Nye offers up a fine piano solo. "Wish You Were Her", however steers well clear of the charts and heads for the bars as the band sway into Ameripolitan territory and the guitars grimace instead of smile. A woozy waltz time lament with a seventies feel courtesy of the electric keyboards and fuzzy bass line it sees Utley and his partner sharing a table but separated by miles of estrangement. The album is packed full of these wonderful odes to lost or failed love with Utley mining the past and coming up with new treasures such as the classic couplet “I just can’t remember to forget” on the honky tonk tones of "Remember To Forget", while "Honey I’m Home" weeps wonderfully as Utley swaps the family home for the local pub in an attempt to drown his sorrows. "One Heartbeat At A Time" is another break up song but it’s delivered with the commercial heartbeat that John Hartford sounded out on "Gentle On My Mind" and is another example of the commercial potential contained herein. While all of the band are in excellent form here Renee Frye in particular sparkles with her harmony support with "Only In Our Minds", an excellent country duet. She has two showcases here, the rolling and tumbling boogie "Firecracker" where she is as sassy as Loretta Lynn, while "The Only Thing" is another tear jerking lament offering the female counterpoint to Utley’s songs of loss.

If this were all the album would be a winner but they throw in a couple of belters just to up the ante. "Four In The Morning" swaggers in with a muscular swing as beefy pedal steel and swirling organ churn and boil over a menacing rhythm producing a song that has the heft of a Joe Ely song back when he was a pal of The Clash. "Jesus Wept" is simpler in its delivery with some Bakersfield country in the twang guitars as Utley sings “I’m broke as hell, all my bills are due, My girlfriend’s mad and my wife is too” on a song that just about encapsulates the stereotype of red necked country music lovers. It’s a bit of a hoot. Utley closes the album with the only cover, a version of fellow TIAM artists, Great Peacock’s "Bluebird" which he dresses up in warm vocals and sweet pedal steel murmurings, a sweet end to a meaty album."



From Chris Martin, Atlanta Music Examiner (Atlanta, GA): "Mark Utley is a man that knows his way around a song, just treat your ears to any of the albums from Magnolia Mountain and you will understand what I am talking about. With his latest project – Bulletville – Utley is joined by a collection of Magnolia Mountain veterans and a few talented friends as they focus on the traditional sounds that made Country music so damn good. Their latest album, Bulletville, to be released this April on This Is American Music, is loaded with the sweet twang of a pedal steel; classic honky tonk rhythms and lyrics that will make you laugh and tear up all at the same time. The hooks and melodies lure listeners in, allowing Utley’s lyrics to sink their teeth into them. Songs about lost love, tough decisions, loneliness, and wanting are given life through Utley’s country warble, and they may be some of the best songs the man has written.

“Good Timin’ Girl” welcomes listeners to Bulletville. A song about regret from all sides, Utley delivers a tale of a man and woman that question their abnormal relationships. She has spent a life giving herself to the next man and now has nothing to show for it, while he wasted most of his time trying to pursue her love. The song “Honey, I’m Home” is a brilliantly-written song about loss and heartache. Utley sings of a man that has lost his wife and can’t bear to spend time in their home. So the local watering hole and the inside of a bottle take its place. Bulletville kicks up the twang with the track “Jesus Wept”. Infused with a bit of humor it is a satirical statement letting listeners know that one person’s bad day/life may be trivial compared to others. Plus, how can you not like a song that successfully references Elvis dying on the commode, missing George Jones, or yelling at kids to get off the lawn. Adding a bit of Southern soul to the record is the bluesy “Four in the Morning”. Utley unleashes one of the best lines on the album, “this is the time of the evening when you can’t fool yourself no more / when the good Lord ain’t talkin’, and the Devil’s at the door”, as he paints a vivid image of a man at the end of his rope. The album comes to a close with the beautiful “Bluebird”. The music takes a backseat to the vocals as Utley and Renee Frye harmonize on this melancholy tune. Speaking of Ms. Frye, be sure and listen to “Firecracker” and “The Only Thing” where she takes lead vocals. Going from feisty to forlorn, her sultry voice is mesmerizing.

From beginning to end, this record is true Country music. Influences from Country music’s past litter the songs as Utley and company deliver a classic sound that never gets old. Country music is at a crossroads where over-produced pop melodies and hiphop-inspired vocals have over taken the industry, threatening to choke out any semblance of the classic sounds. Thankfully, there are bands like Bulletville that understand that good Country music is about substance not style, and this album is full of substance."



From Jim Nolan, WVXU-FM (Cincinnati, OH): "There's a video going around lately, created by Nashville songwriter Greg Todd, in which six current hit county music songs are all played simultaneously. If you watch the video, what you quickly realize is how shockingly and painfully similar each of the songs are.

One could easily argue the case that the majority of current popular music is equally formulaic, regardless of genre, and that given most of the songs you might find in today's "Top 40," it is the producer, not the artist, who is the driving force behind the industry. Look at the work of Max Martin or Calvin Harris and you'll see title after title performed by various, insipid Johnny Bravos who worked the assembly line, played the game and achieved their fifteen minutes.

Knowing this makes me want to scream "Thank goodness!" that there are still true musical craftspeople out there like Mark Utley.

I became acquainted with Mark and his band Magnolia Mountain back in October, 2013 when I wrote a review of their album Beloved. Even then, my first impression was of an individual with a vision who made no excuses and accepted no compromises.

Bulletville (both the band and the 11-track album) shows that that impression still rings true with such gripping songs as "Wish You Were Her" and the bluesy "Four in the Morning." The music is as bone-deep country as you can get without calling yourself Willie or Waylon, and the lyrics are brash, abrasive and rife with old-school heart-on-your-sleeve pathos.

In 2012, Bulletville evolved as an outgrowth of Magnolia Mountain and includes several of the same musicians -- Renee Frye on vocals, Jeff Vanover on guitar and Todd Drake on drums -- joined by the likes of Ken Kimbrell on bass as well as some all-star talent in the persons of Ricky Nye on piano and John Lang on pedal steel. Vocalist Melissa English makes a guest appearance on the album as does the amazing Paul Patterson [Faux Frenchmen].

Just like in the creation of Beloved, Utley and his band of gypsies partnered with John Curley at Ultrasuede Studio to record and produce the album. Like he so often does, Curley exhibits a masterful skill in production by knowing precisely what to keep in and what to edit out. The end result is a graceful harmony between polish and raw honesty.

With the opening bass line of "Good Timin' Girl," Bulletville brings you immediately back to the heyday of WSM and The Grand Ole Opry, when country was king and the radio was the most important gizmo in the house. Lang's pedal steel playing is immaculate and blends with Frye's vocals to put the the icing on the cake that is Nye's piano and Utley's guitar.

"Firecracker" is precisely the kind of boogie-woogie piano-driven composition that I think of when I think of Ricky Nye, so this track is really his chance to shine. However, this song is all about the strength of a woman and Renee Frye refuses to take the back seat to Nye - or to anyone. This ensuing battle for the spotlight only serves makes this song better more powerful.

In "Honey, I'm Home," Utley weaves a tale of barroom brotherhood with far more style and grace than you might get from the likes of Toby Keith. It is not a heavy-handed, pandering beer-commercial like "I Love This Bar," but it is, instead, a well-written story with characters and development that touches upon the human condition.

From the first listen the song that most grabbed my attention was "Jesus Wept." If you put the lyrical poetry of country legends like George Jones and Johnny Cash together in a collection, the words to "Jesus Wept" would fit in quite comfortably and not feel the slightest bit out-of-place.

Jesus came and Jesus tried,
Jesus wept and Jesus died,
And I ain't feeling that good myself today.

I'm broke as hell, all my bills are due,
My girlfriend's mad and my wife is too,
And everyone's lined up for judging me.

In the end, however, it is the music that propels this collection and, as musicians go, Utley has surrounded himself with some of the best of the best. I don't know how many takes each song needed to get it right - or how much cutting and splicing Curley had to do to finally get all of the pieces to line up together - but the end result feels like it grew naturally out of the spirit of friendship and collaboration that is Bulletville.

Thank goodness for that."

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Reviews


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Gene Goodale

Great Country ALbum
This record IS country music - the way it should be done.
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Mntex

Get out your dancing shoes
Whether you like your country fast or slow, this album has it all. These original songs by Mark Utley invoke vivid images and will please the listener looking for real country.
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