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The Vagaband The Vagaband
Album: Something Wicked This Way Comes
Label: Eggsong
Tracks: 10

Normally, I'll spend a couple of days listening to a review CD before considering what to write, this time however and nearly a fortnight later I'm still finding new interest on album from the ragged 9 strong lineup of The Vagaband. With it's brooding title "Something Wicked This Way Comes" you would be mistakenly in expecting something more sinister, the little darkness there is to be found still un-nerving.

Their dishevelled appearance further misconception of intent across a recording of 10 cuts, a ragtime fusion of Americana, New Orleans jazz, folk and blues with more than a nod to British rock.

Between the collective the play at least 17 different instruments, guitars, bass and percussion expanded with addition of piano, organ, squeezebox, pedal steel, mandolin, fiddle, ukelele horn section. They also remain unafraid not to draw upon guest musicians to complement recording with additional harmonies, string and brass orchestration. Tuba and Trombone from Xav Mathey imbibing a sleazy feel on the jazzy 'Spiritual Man' invokes memory of the early 70's work of Harry Nilsson.

It is nice to see such a large assemble have their various musical influences represented on set of originals, 'Bright Are The Stars' recalls the folk rock of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song 'Woodstock', while the brass section adds just the right amount of menace to downward spiral of trippy effects laden 'An Eye For An Eye'. Lyric "my aim is true" on reverb drenched 'There'll Only Be One Elvis' clearly acknowledging the man in question as singer London born, further gaze at British music in the Beatles tinged 'Zoetrope', song about early animation device.

The fun had in the studio apparent throughout the recording with single exception. Sorry but the darkness implied on song 4 remains unheard. Despite listening to the album repeatedly, I guess this is a personal thing however, superstition has demanded skipping this number without even mention of its song title.

During an unusually busy period, in which excess of 20 discs arrived in the post, "Something Wicked This Way Comes" has remained a go to listen. The exuberant harmonies on 'One For The Road', itself harkening to Sheryl Crow era 'All I Wanna Do', singularly makes solid case for.

Tony Wilding