2. Sunday Morning Coming Down (Kris Kristofferson cover)
3. 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten (Lucinda Williams cover)
4. L.A. Freeway (Guy Clark cover)
5. Magdalene (Guy Clark cover)
6. Bucking Horse Moon (Tom Russell cover)
7. Seminole Wind (John Anderson cover)
8. Starting Over (Chris Stapleton cover)
9. Highwayman (The Highwaymen cover)
The Disc is a CDr limited edition of 100, in a 4-panel ecoWallet
Good songwriting is good songwriting. The style, the genre, the kind of hat the writer wears? These things have nothing to do with the song. When an artist performs with just their voice and their instrument, and it works? Well, that’s a pretty damned good song. As the soul of Thanatos since their debut in 1993, Patrick Ogle knows a damned good song. For Covered Country, he selected nine classic country tunes to deliver with just a mic-ed up parlor guitar and his bare-bones baritone vocals. This is “country” music performed by an artist often described as “goth.” You’d be hard-pressed to tell though, because these stark untreated renditions capture the passion of these songs defying genre classifications.
Created in a couple of sessions with no overdubs, the album is the recorded equivalent of sitting in an artist’s living room listening to him play a few tunes for you. These are songs Ogle often strums while sitting on his couch, feet propped up, thumbing through papers with chords and lyrics piled harum scarum on the table in front of him. Even though it’s an album of covers, it comes across as an intensely personal record.
Covered Country’s single and video lead track, “Seminole Wind,” is from John Anderson’s 1992 album of the same name. It tells the tale of the ongoing destruction of Florida’s natural environment. As a native of Apopka, FL, Anderson has seen first-hand the devastation in his home state. He is also a consummate professional musician. A while back he had a serious health scare. He literally died on the operating table during the recording of his 2020 LP, Years. After he recovered from near-death, he told his producer, “Let’s get these vocals down because I might not wake up.”
“Pancho & Lefty,” written by one of America’s greatest songwriters of any era, Townes Van Zant, was made famous in 1983 by Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson and later covered by damn near everyone with a guitar. There are likely some listeners out there, focused on a different genre, who have never heard it; it’s truly worth listening to all of its iterations. From Emmylou Harris to Hoyt Axton, artists have interpreted this track in vastly different ways; one version might be elegant, like Harris’, while another is almost joyful. Ogle’s rendition returns to the acoustic style Van Zant employed but with a more “strumming style” on the guitar and with a matter-of-fact storytelling delivery.
“I could have finger picked and done it like Van Zant,” says Ogle, “or I could have gone for the 80s Willie Nelson more polished style. I stuck with chords instead of picking, and I confess I wanted this to feel like a campfire story.”
“Highwayman” was written by Jimmy Webb for the “country supergroup” The Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson). Webb has numerous hits; the most well known is, perhaps, the 5th Dimension’s “Up, Up and Away.” He also wrote “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and “MacArthur Park.” Interestingly this track was recorded by Ogle on the first take, the only one in this collection with that distinction.
Ogle says, “I was just feeling this song that day. The funny thing is for weeks I had been riding around on my bike singing this to myself, and I consistently screwed up the words. Somehow I managed to get it right the first time when recording.”
Ogle’s versions are homages, not necessarily to the most well-known recordings but to the songwriters themselves. Sometimes those writers are lauded and household names. Other lesser-known writers had their original songs become world-famous when other artists recorded & performed them (Guy Clark, Webb and Van Zant fit this description.)
Over the years, Ogle’s own compositions have trod similar ground as many of these recordings — telling stories of outsiders, veering vaguely into the mystical. “Some of these songwriters were influential to me,” Ogle comments, “while others were more of an encouragement as I became aware of them after I’d already been writing for years. All of them showed me what a songwriter can accomplish if they work at it. Their songs are universal.”
reviews editor –
Maria Madafari in February 22’s issue of Sonic Seducer Musikmagazin writes:
Thanatos. That sounds at first like abyss, death and ruin. However, behind the gloomy name hide no devil-worshipping bateaters, but at first glance quite an inconspicuous looking guy named Patrick Ogle. He originally founded Thanatos as a studio project with Sam Rosenthal (Black Tape For A Blue Girl from Projekt Records) back in the mid-80s. Almost 30 [sic] years later we find ourselves sitting around the campfire and roasting marshmallows. Sitting next to us is Ogle, acoustic guitar in hand, cowboy hat on his head and his album Covered Country in his luggage. The special thing about this work: Ogle, who is actually at home in the Gothic scene, covers a handful of country songs with which he has a special relationship and gives them his very own touch. He pays tribute to American singers such as Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, Lucinda Williams and Guy Clark. Covered Country almost automatically becomes the perfect soundtrack for long, leisurely drives over dusty highways and afternoon melancholy in the hot South Carolina sun.
Since the ’80s, Patrick Ogle has given a the stage moniker of Thanatos a level of talent that seems (to me) to be underrated and underappreciated. The release of This Endless Night Inside with classic tracks like “Brush Up”, and “Things Fall Apart” have long provided a deep look into the thought processes of an introspective musician with things to say. Thanatos has been tightly integrated with Projekt Records for many decades. The band has issued several interesting album titles including his last one, Portland (2020).
On November 26, the next Thanatos album emerges with a new twist. The album – Covered Country – is just as the title hints, an album of country songs covered by Patrick Ogle as only he could – with a unique sense of understanding and of respect. Covered Country is a collected set of 9 songs featuring classics by Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark, Lucinda Williams, John Anderson, and The Highwaymen. These covers are called homages not necessarily to the song themselves, but to the songwriters that wrote them. Personally, I think that someone should do a covers album of classic Thanatos songs to memorialize the talent of Patrick Ogle.
It should be noted here that Thanatos is not a country band. Their music is largely goth and folk, both of which do NOT accurately describe the actual style of Thanatos. But with his musical wanderings, the new album should be rewarding. -MARowe