Cherlene (Songs from the TV Series Archer)
Okay, I’ll cop to it right here at the beginning: I did not expect this album to be good. Sure, I pre-ordered it on iTunes, but I kind expected the whole thing to be a joke. For the love of god, it opens with a duet with Kenny Loggins on ‘Danger Zone’ and features songs titled ‘I’ll Burn It Down’ and ‘Gypsy Woman.’ Clearly, this is the creators of Archer screwing with us on Cherlene’s country career and I’m gonna laugh the entire way. Because what does Cherlene know about country music besides screaming “OUTLAW COUNTRY” every 20 seconds?
Well, much like the lead up to season 5, they weren’t screwing around. This album is actually a really solid country album.
Produced and mostly written by Kevin Kinney of Drivin N Cryin, the voice of Cherlene is newcomer Jessy Lynn Martens. Who sounds awesome, by the way! She’s got a similar tone to Judy Greer’s speaking voice and a certain roughness that’s perfect for an aspiring outlaw country singer. Her voice not only drew me in to Cherlene’s songs, but made me want to look up more of her music too.
As for the content of the album itself, it starts to dip a little once it gets past ‘Please Don’t Go,’ but it still manages to be a good listen from start to finish. ‘Midnight Blues’ and ’40 Miles of Mountain Road’ are beautiful country/folk songs that I would have no idea were associated with Archer if no one had told me this album was a soundtrack to this current season. In fact, most of this album can be listened to by non-Archer fans and still be appreciated for the sheer amount of quality that’s here.
Of course, there’s still some Archer in-jokes on the album. Besides ‘I’ll Burn It Down’ (alluding to Cheryl/Carol’s arson tendencies) and ‘Gypsy Woman’ (“JUST LIKE THE GYPSY WOMAN SAID!”), Cherlene also makes references to an ocelot pissing in her purse on ‘Cherlene’s Broken Hearts and Auto Parts’ and how she does not want to have a baby on ‘It’s All About Me.’ If you’re an Archer fan, you know exactly what those lines are referencing and you’re going to get a chuckle out of them. That, and the declaration of “holy shit snacks” from Martens and Adam Reed that closes the album out. Which, really, is the best way you can close out an album that ends with a song called ‘Straight To Hell’
Final Thoughts: The first five songs are definitely the strongest, but the Cherlene album manages to be a solid country album from start to finish. A project that could have easily not taken itself seriously, it ends up being an album that alternative country/folk lovers can enjoy. I definitely plan on recommending this album to both Archer fans and non-fans alike in the future, if only for the fantastic ‘Danger Zone’ cover/duet that opens the album and ‘Midnight Blues.’