Archive for the Van Meter Category

Van Meter: Should Have Been a Weather Girl

Posted in Caleb Stine, Van Meter on November 1, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Her name is tattooed on your right arm.

And it wasn’t ’til you took off your pearl button shirt,
That I knew I’s doing something wrong.
And now I’m doing something wrong.
From the opening verse of “Something Wrong,” the opening song of Van Meter‘s Should Have Been a Weather Girl, the tone is set for an album that deals with broken hearts and broken promises. In her lyrics, Jennifer Van Meter, the songwriter/vocalist/guitarist behind Van Meter, tackles all sides of the broken relationship.
I that opening track, the narrator asks the object of her affections to remove the tattoo that bears his lover’s name… and to remover her as well. Elsewhere the protagonist revels in the piles of broken men left in her wake in the slow burning “The Habit,” and completely removes her heart from the equation for much of “Keep On.” In the former she warns a potential beau against giving her his heart. In the latter, she dreams of disappearing in the night and leaving her liaison to wonder where she came from… and where she has gone.
At the core of most of these songs however hides the singer’s own broken heart. The narrator in these songs plays with the hearts of others to avoid the pain in her own. Other times, as in “Hard to Say” the pain catches up to her. She is left alone to ponder what might have been and must force herself to face the pain and move forward.
Of course, none of this is new ground. Songs about broken hearts are as old as music itself. Somehow though, Van Meter manages to keep it all fresh. The emotions in the songs never feel contrived, and the rock tinged country sound of Van Meter’s music holds just a bit of a southern twang that keeps pulling me in.
Even though Jennifer Van Meter hails from and currently resides in Maryland, that southern swagger is in no way contrived or forced. Van Meter spent her college years as a student in the Bluegrass and Country Music program at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN. It was at ETSU where she studied guitar under former Johnny Cash bandleader Jerry Hensley and songwriting under Ed Snodderly. Hensley is also a direct descendant of The Carter Family, and a lyric from Snodderly’s “Diamond Stream” is engraved into the wall at the entrance to the Hall of Honor at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. That speaks volumes to the type of musical education Van Meter received.
Van Meter also claims Kasey Chambers’ Barricades & Brickwalls as a primary influence on her sound and an album that helped to define her own musical tastes. Any regular reader of this site knows that I can readily attest to the life altering quality of that record. From what she tells me, I imagine Van Meter’s experience with Barricades & Brickwalls to be very similar to mine.
Should Have Been a Weather Girl puts all of Van Meter’s education to use. The musicianship and songwriting she learned in the classroom at ETSU mixed with the informal lessons she learned from Kasey Chambers have helped Jennifer Van Meter and her band craft a very solid debut record that is worth checking out. Here are a couple of tracks from the album.
Van Meter: Something Wrong (Buy Album)
Van Meter: Habit (Buy Album)
I’d also like to briefly mention one of Van Meter’s collaborators on this album, Caleb Stine.
Caleb came to Knoxville a few months back to perform on The Blue Plate Special. I enjoyed his set on the Blue Plate, but haven’t really had an excuse to share his music here… until now.
This is one from Caleb’s I’ll Head West Again album called “Country Music Won’t Kill You.” Among other things, it addresses the idea that someday in the far distant future aliens will visit the Earth long after humans have become extinct. The aliens will then find an old recording of Gram Parsons and Clarence White and view our species as “better than we really are.” I just really like that sentiment.
Caleb Stine: Country Music Won’t Kill You (Buy Album)