An assured debut from the Moseley based country-pop band, stalwarts of the Birmingham live circuit, with a large and loyal fan base. They are formed around a front line of Ben Mills (Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica), Oli Jobes (Vocals, Lead Guitar) and Lucy Mills (Vocals), with Silas Wood (Double Bass) and Jamie Human (Drums).
Live shows are up-tempo joyous evets, the love of the music and trust and affection between band members showing clearly through. They now release their much anticipated first album
The eleven original tracks (by Ben, Oli or both) are a quintessentially English take on country folk, sharing the melodic and commercial sensibilities of Hank Williams with the quirky Brit-pop of the Kinks, and more than a dash of hot club era gypsy swing.
The album opens with their trade mark three-part harmonies on Green Grass, a catchy chorus and some rapid-fire vocals from Ben and Lucy, on a theme of a midlife crisis. Then a well-constructed middle eight and a blues lift before we go back to the chorus and out. Lucy takes lead vocals on Bobby a wistful waltz, a tale of lost love and regret, and the themes are further explored in All at Sea.
Banker's Blues rattles along on a rockabilly groove. A live favourite, but it comes across on record as a lyrically clumsy shot at an obvious target. Like all one joke songs, it does not bear repeated listening.
The beautiful I'll Wait until Sunrise follows, with a lilting chorus and some super lead guitar playing from Jobes.
On repeated listening, you realise that this is not one band but two, the live favourites sit oddly with the more reflective numbers. Some promising song-writing, is mixed with simplistic comic songs. Both writers fall into this trap. For example, Leader of Men aims clumsy swipe at health and safely, but butts up against the delicate guitar riff that introduces Lonely with You. And that in turn is followed by Touch the Sky which shows real tenderness, and features some lovely bowed bass from Wood.
The album is produced by the band themselves, and feels polite compared to their live sound. They miss the overview and editing that a producer would bring, and that their music deserves, the album seems dry, a lengthy demo. The writing is good, and carried off well by a polished performance, but both could go up a notch in content and intensity.
Still, this is a fine album. They do best when they keep it simple, such as the up-tempo modern classic Take My Hand and Stone in My Shoe. The album closes with the title track, Run Free Right now, a mid-pace rocker with a well-constructed chorus and climax.
An enjoyable and capable release with broad appeal, and worth a listen. And a band that are highly recommended live.
|Darren Black: Wisperau||James Edwyn and the Borrowed Band: High Fences|
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