Combating the sameness
Singer-songwriter does things his own way on new CD
Lyle E Style occupies that increasingly rare point on the country music continuum that’s far away from generic Top 40 pop country - and that’s exactly how he likes it.
After living in Vancouver and Nashville, trying to catch his big break, the 37-year-old returned to his native Winnipeg and signed to Absurd Machine Records. That label has released his new album, Cutting Room Floor.
Style’s musical career began nearly 20 years ago, performing in high school rock bands. Speaking by phone from his vacation spot in Palm Springs, Style said that at that time, country music was the cringe-inducing music his parents listened to. Like so many country song clichés, Style got into the genre after an encounter with an early girlfriend.
“I think [I got into country music] when I broke up with my first girlfriend. I never understood country music whatsoever… Once I got dumped, I started to understand all those country songs and I started realizing that a lot of those songs were stories and I really got hooked on them,” Style said.
Since that initial heartbreak, Style has been perfecting his brand of stripped down Americana and digging deep into country music’s history. His research culminated in his first book, 2005’s Ain’t Got No Cigarettes: Memoirs of Music Legend Roger Miller and his record Cutting Room Floor.
Style said artists like Miller, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings were huge influences and sources of inspiration on his own music—and he’s always preferred the rare, hard-to-find tracks from his favourite artists.
“I just found that some of the stuff that wasn’t commercial was just so creative and so cool and I just try to take pieces of that and throw it into my music.”
Cutting Room Floor harnesses Style’s love for obscure songs, as it features renditions of previously unreleased songs by Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and the aforementioned Miller and Jennings. Relying on his industry connections, most notably producing and songwriting legend Bill Dees, Style poured over dusty demo tapes and even gained permission from Buddy Holly’s widow to compile these rare tracks. The result is an album that’s at once refreshing and historic.
“One of the reasons behind putting out this release is its uniqueness,” said Colin Musulak of Absurd Machine Records. “The fact that there’s a story behind it makes it special.”
Style said he always tries to do things that haven’t been done before.
“The one thing I’ve heard time and time again from spending so much time in Nashville and Branson, and I was lucky enough to spend time with my heroes, and they’ve all said there’s a ‘sameness’ in country music,” Style said.
Ain’t Got No Cigarettes and Cutting Room Floor are his way of combating that sameness.
“Nobody has ever written a book on Roger Miller and nobody has ever released a record like I’ve just released…No one has ever found unreleased songs by Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller and Buddy Holly, so I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’ve hunted these songs down.”
Cutting Room Floor is available now. Visit www.doitwithstyle.com.
Published in Volume 63, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 15, 2009)