Album Review: Sugarcane Jane - "Southern State Of Mind"

Americana duo showcases tight songwriting and performances on this, their 2018 release.

If you appreciate country music male/female duos, but Sugarland has become just a little too pop for your tastes, you might enjoy Sugarcane Jane. It’s the husband and wife pairing of Anthony and Savana Lee Crawford, and the duo’s album Southern State of Mind is a collection of truly downhome country sounds -- not just merely a southern mental state.

The combination of banjo picking and vocal harmonies driving “Campfire” reminds one of Old Crow Medicine Show’s diehard traditionalism. Then there’s the album’s title track, which is a sing-along ode to southern living, both lyrically and sonically. Country radio plays a lot of these types of songs, only many such tracks also feature overbearing rock guitars and overly bright pop music production. Actions (such as country music instrumentation) speak louder than words.

“Rainbow” sets aside country sonics for a lovely, 60s rock influenced track. It includes the encouraging line, “The rainbow will always follow the rain.” It’s helpful to remember that, although hard rain may fall, rainbows come along right after to tell us all will be well. Savana Lee is at her best on the ballad, “The One Before Me,” a song that helps a partner forget about some of the bad romantic baggage he brought into a relationship.

Every song on Southern State of Mind is strong, and the playing – mostly by Anthony – is consistently appropriate and skilled, making Sugarcane Jane as satisfying as it is sweet.