A bunch of hip young gunslingers from Canada New Country Rehab are a four piece acoustic band (fiddle, guitar, double bass and drums) who attack their songs with gusto and a fine sense of adventure utilising studio effects that enhance their fairly unique take on Americana songs. Their version of Springsteen’s State Trooper for example removes the dread and replaces it with a frantic speed changing the song’s character from being furtive into a daredevil chasing down the highway. This hell-bent abandon is captured on several of the tracks. Angel of Death which opens the album showcases the excellent playing of all four band members on a blistering song that could easily sit on a heavy metal album if you electrified the guitar. Hank Williams’ Mind your Own Business gets a dirty southern rock treatment with nasty slide guitar and voodoo drums and even a fiddle sample of the Mission Impossible theme at the end! There are three Williams covers here perhaps explaining the Country Rehab moniker as they do drag these old and hallowed chestnuts into the modern age. Ramblin’ Man initially appears to be a respectful tribute version but half way through the band get trippy and dip into dub electronica reshaping the song in an appealing fashion. The Log Train stays closer to the William’s’ original but is stripped to the bone with some fine singing from John Showman and plaintive guitar and fiddle almost defining that “high lonesome sound.” A superb rendition.
The original songs by Showman and guitarist “Champagne” James Robertson stand up well beside the covers. Cameo is a well told tale of generations escaping from danger and its smooth delivery is similar to that of the Avett Brothers recent success. The Lost Hand tells a torrid gambling story very much in the traditional style with a fantastic arrangement that builds up the tension until the denouement.
Composed of four well-seasoned session players New Country Rehab deliver the goods here. Showman’s fiddle is exemplary and Robertson on guitar, Ben Whitley on bass and Roman Tome on drums kick up a fine fuss. A striking debut indeed and it looks like Glasgow will get a chance to see then as their website lists two Celtic Connection gigs here in January at Oran Mor on the 26th and the Festival Club the following day.
The Log Train