I must confess that country music is one of my guilty pleasures. For all the clichés about good 'ole boys, beer-drinking Rednecks and perpetual heartbreak, the genre is often a masterclass in songwriting and musicianship. Those nice people at Ueberschall obviously agree as, despite a dominance of more dance-friendly styles in their library catalogue, they have recently added Country Loops to their Elastik-based loop-library collection. As with all recent Elastik libraries, Country Loops is available in a download-only format and the 5GB of sample material is split into three files for ease of access. On my test system, download, installation and activation proceeded flawlessly.
Like the majority of the Elastik series, this is a construction-kit collection, with over 1800 individual loops spread across 20 kits. Each kit has been assigned a useful name that hints at the mood and contains the original recording tempo. While each kit also includes all the song-structure elements you need to construct a complete song — intro and outro included — the organisation is somewhat different to other Elastik libraries as, instead of verse, bridge or chorus sections, each kit is then sub-divided into a larger number of shorter sections. Typically, these contain a particular chord sequence, but the idea is that you can assemble these in your own preferred order to create your 'verse' or 'chorus'. This works very well and adds some additional flexibility. There are also plenty of loops within each kit sub-section. As well as individual loops for bass, electric and acoustic guitars, percussion and a complete drum mix, you also get the kick, snare (top and bottom mics), hi-hat, ride, toms and overhead mics as separate loops; great if you want to control your own drum kit mix.
Country music is, of course, quite a broad genre and, while Country Loops does span some of this, the emphasis seems to be on modern country sounds rather than more traditional flavours; this is more Brad Paisley and Keith Urban than it is Hank Williams Sr. It is, however, definitely country rather than the more pop-based crossover style that some country artists use to appeal to a more mainstream audience. True to the genre, the recording quality and the musicianship on display are absolutely first class. The sounds are right on the money in terms of current country-music production and I was particularly impressed with the guitar work: very slick electric with enough 'rawk' to give it attitude, acoustic guitars that pick and strum with precision. and the occasional bit of fabulous slide work.
If you are a fan of the genre, Country Loops has plenty to offer, and I suspect that it will also appeal to busy media composers who want a slice of modern country available in their sample collection. Either way, Country Loops is top-notch. Yee-hah! John Walden