We Dreamed America

We Dreamed America


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

If you’re interested in the rise of New British Country music, and how it is quite sure that it is not American C & W, then this is a doc for you.

A fair selection of established and rising British talent contributes to this informative run-through of the UK’s increasingly recognised genre. From the likes of Sopranos soundtrackers Alabama 3 to The Barker Band and Tom McRae, each is given a brief but fair opportunity to contribute. The artists’ views are developed alongside input from a variety of music journalists and industry bods. ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris is as genteel as ever and Loose Records’ Tom Bridgewater knows his stuff, but it’s musician and journalist Sidney Griffin who is the most animated and engaging.

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Of particular note for film fans is the brief debate on how recent cinema has helped introduce new country music and British Americana to larger audiences. The Coens' O Brother, Where Art Thou? brought bluegrass onto many people’s radar and Walk The Line shone another light on the dark Johnny Cash, raising an awareness of what else might be out there.

Director Alex Walker’s judicious editing sets a sensible pace, allowing the talking heads to make their marks without delay, so that he can make his bigger point with no degree of uncertainty - that here are artists and music to be taken seriously. That said, it is, of course, the various songs sprinkled throughout that have the greatest effect.

There is, however, scant reflection on or riposte to these views. While there are significant contributions from the US, practically everyone is involved in or is supportive of the New British Country movement. While those present are scornful of prejudicial attitudes that class UK talents as wannabee-Americans, having a few such detractors would have given a more balanced view, ultimately making this more substantial than a communal pitching of the flag.

Walker has filmed simply and ably, but unnecessarily jazzes up the HD camera work. While flitting between colour and black & white is all very well, the added ‘ageing celluloid’ effects of scratches, lines and burns serves no purpose. Still, at just under 45 mins this is an informative documentary, if somewhat singularly promotional.

Reviewed on: 02 Oct 2008
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Documentary charting the rise of New British Country Music.
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Director: Alex Walker

Writer: Felix Bechtolsheimer, Alex Walker

Starring: Alabama 3, The Barker Band, Paul Barrere, The Broken Family Band, Guy Clark, BJ Cole, Robert Fisher, Bob Harris, Daisy & Lewis Kitty, Tom McRae

Year: 2008

Runtime: 48 minutes

Country: USA, UK


CFF 2008

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