Iodine - Iodine
By: Dan MacIntosh
For folks accustomed to a steady diet of the pop-country music played on today’s country radio, Iodine’s music may well sting like actual iodine on an open wound. Led by the real-deal singing of vocalist Susanne Mumpower, this act’s self-titled release will cure anyone bruised and bloodied by the oftentimes-colorless blade of contemporary country music.
Mumpower writes about what she knows, which is rural life. One song called “Mountain People” speaks of the determination and will power of Appalachian folk. Unlike too many modern country songs, which merely name off a series of Southern clichés to establish credibility, this lyric describes the heart and soul of the South’s working class. This album also closes with “Coal Dust Kisses”, a song about a father’s love for his coal miner’s daughter.
This start-to-finish strong traditional country album also includes a thought or two about love and romance. “A Woman Will”, for example, is a wonderful updating of “Stand by Your Man.” Its words offer a reminder of how, when all other people and institutions may let a guy down, his woman will always stay true. Mumpower shows off her fighting side with “Let’s Stay up and Fight.” There are more songs about kissing and making up than can be counted, but this is the opposite kind. “I don’t wanna go to bed/Let’s stay up and fight,” Mumpower demands, after confronting her man about his wild, redneck ways.
Although Iodine is as traditional as a modern country band gets, these musicians are nevertheless not entirely out of the loop when it comes to knowing classic rock music. The group covers “Let Me Roll It,” which is complete with plucked banjo, tinkled piano, fiddle and backing vocal oohs and ahhs. It sounds like an intentional bluegrass tune, but it isn’t. Instead, this is an album track from Paul McCartney & Wings’ Band on the Run Album. McCartney had originally intended the recording to be a response song to John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?,” which was also done in Lennon’s confrontational musical style at the time. However, Iodine takes the tune completely out of its original context, and to great success. Even a song like “Mountain People” could pass for a mid-‘70s Fleetwood Mac track, what with the ominous mood it creates; it might easily fly as the Southern cousin to Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.”
There is no shortage of country artists with Southern pride. What country music severely lacks, however, are artists with a semblance of musical pride. If you say you’re country, why does your music sound like pop music -- albeit with country coloring? (Are you listening, Lady Antebellum?) Iodine, bless ‘em, is an act that says the right things, while also sounding the right way. It’s a twofold proposition, where far too many musicians only get half the answer right. Furthermore, Mumpower is also a vocal powerhouse to reckon with. She comes off more interested in leaving a valuable musical legacy, rather than lining up a Clairol endorsement. Country music doesn’t need any more makeup to cover its blemishes; it requires medicine to heal it. Sorry, but sometimes the truth stings like iodine.
Buy: CD Baby