Justin Rutledge And The Junction Forty No Never Alone

It takes a lot of nerve to begin an album of classic country-inspired songs with one whose principle refrain is "I’m too sober to sleep, I’m too drunk to cry”. Fortunately, No Never Alone pulls it off with its near-perfect marriage of traditional country arrangements and Rutledge’s stories of love and heartache. After recording this material on a shoestring budget some time ago, the first place to notice was the UK, where it was released on Mojave 3’s indie label Shady Lane. Thankfully, Canada is now able to enjoy these 12 beautifully crafted songs that drip with raw emotion and respect for the canon of country music that inspired it. When any young artist is drawn to this genre, the risk is always that the result will come across as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the classics, pedal-steel and all. Luckily, this album is nothing of the sort. These are real stories of Canadian life, played by people with an honest love for the genre, including special guests like Mary Margaret O’Hara. The slow, rich sound of the album is incredibly accomplished for a debut, and it’s hard to ignore the fact that Rutledge is already proving himself to be a truly talented writer.

Your songs have an incredibly natural sound. I just wanted to record an honest album. I didn’t want any pretence in there whatsoever — that was my sole intention. The songs pretty much wrote themselves — I didn’t pay any attention to time, length, or catchy qualities. Our laissez-faire attitude of "let’s just do this for the sake of doing it, and see where it goes” adds to a lot of the lazy vibe of the record.

Where did you draw your inspiration when recording this album? We basically wanted to make a standard country record. As a template we had a lot of old traditional arrangements — anything you’d hear on a George Jones record or a Gram Parsons record. That’s the charm with country music — it doesn’t rely upon any gimmick — it’s all about heart. It’s all there in the old arrangements.

What kind of impression do you want to leave with the listener? I hope they understand that country music is anything but kitschy. With this record, I hope that it retains some kind of timelessness. I wanted to make a record that you could put on 20 years ago, or 20 years from now and it would still resonate. (Six Shooter)