With any genre, the founding style and artists are often times overlooked by new musicians.
That’s why I absolutely love artists like Evan Bartels, who captures the spirit of classic country and Americana rock ‘n’ roll, while creating something brand new.
Recently Bartels released “Lula,” along with heart-thumping track “The Low Country” and the poetically existential “Cutting Teeth,” as a part of his maxi-single Hat Trick Sesh 003 on Silver Street Records.
Now, the first time I heard “Lula,” my kneejerk reaction was to reference Jeannie C. Riley, but I quickly realized there’s not a lot of people reading this who still remember Jeannie C. Riley. So, I went searching for something better. Bartels’s long road home energy draws memories of Van Morrison, while his southern drawl and storytelling recalls the likes of Waylon, Willie, and the boys.
Where the story of “Lula” is concerned, it’s a haunting and familiar tale. Whether it be through family, friends, or an episode of 20/20, it’s one we’ve all been privy to in some capacity.
Well, Lula was a girl from a humble town.
She had a mean, drunk daddy
liked to push her ’round
and he sold what he called poor man’s cocaine,
but the police called it methamphetamine.
One night she sunk her knife in the small of his back
ain’t no one gonna find where she buried him at.
Once, while having a conversation with a very good friend of mine in regards to the state of the world, he said to me, “I think most people are terrible and do terrible things. You just don’t realize it until you’re older because you don’t understand it when you’re a kid.” I believe that to be very true, and I believe this is a song anyone can relate to. Coming from a small town, I grew up knowing girls like Lula. Family pain is unlike any other pain you can feel. It breaks you down, it leaves you with scars that will stay with you your entire life. Bartels does a fantastic job of capturing that plight in his delicate approach and downhome vocals.
She’d say, I ain’t gettin’ younger,
I just wanna feel good.
I ain’t gonna do what you want ’cause you tell me I should.
I’m just gonna sit right down
and have a smoke.
Somebody buy me a beer,
somebody tell me a joke.
These lines in particular resonated with me. It provoked the frustration and emptiness that myself and so many other girls are all too familiar with. For us women, our youth is often spent being narrated by someone else. Everyone is constantly telling you what you should be doing, how you should be doing it, who you’re supposed to be, and often times speaking to you as if you’re too dumb to figure it all out for yourself.
It quickly backs you into a corner where you feel suffocated and on the verge of losing your mind. In that sense, Lula’s life is one many can empathize with. We’ve all been in her shoes at some point.
Overall, this is a beautifully crafted song. Bartels is the type of performer where you can feel his heart when he performs. That’s a rare treat and one that should be appreciated to the fullest extent.