Been a while since I looked at some of the albums gathering dust at Blabber’n’Smoke. Here’s a few that are about to hit the shops.
First up is a fine EP from the splendidly named Water Tower Bucket Boys. Based in Portland, Oregon this four-piece string band have a sound that’s slightly off kilter from traditional bluegrass and revivalist peers. While they are able to conjure up songs that sit well within the country canon such as Pilgrim Song they add a vibraphone on R Song and on Meet Me Where the Crow Don’t Fly a typewriter provides the percussion. Despite this the overall impression is of a band who know their roots and have the musical chops to deliver. The mandolin and banjo on Pilgrim Song are excellent and Meet Me Where The Crow Don’t Fly is a brilliant stroll through a dark Americana with some devilish fiddling. In fact all five songs are well worth hearing. The band start an extensive UK tour later this month.
Fearing and White are essentially a two man super group if such a thing can be said to exist. Canadian Stephen Fearing is probably best known over here as a member of the superb Blackie and the Rodeo Kings while Belfast born Andy White has carved a fine reputation for himself over the years. The two have been writing songs together for several years but only recently managed to record any of them. Anyone familiar with either of these guys won’t be surprised by what’s on offer here. More to the point they won’t be disappointed either. The 13 songs are all well crafted and well delivered with Fearing and White playing all of the instruments and sharing vocals while percussion is ably handled by Ray Farrugia. Fearing’s guitar is the predominant instrument on several of the songs tearing big bluesy chunks out of the likes of Under The Silver Sky, a fine Blackie type song and Say You Will, a slow rolling number that could have been crafted by J.J. Cale. The remainder consists of full bodied workouts such as Mothership, a bubbling pop stew with big chords breaking the surface and acoustic based ballads with Fearing and White harmonising like brothers heard best on the fantastic What we Know Now.
All in all a fine album and well recommended if you like literate honest to god songwriting and delivery. The duo are scheduled to play in Glasgow in October.
What We Know Now
The Carrivick Sisters hail from Devon and From The Fields is their fourth release. Playing guitars, mandolin, banjo and fiddle between them they veer from English folk to old time Americana across this album. They harmonise well and when they are joined on two songs by the esteemed B.J. Cole on pedal steel they achieve a sound that is not too short of sublime. Both appear to be accomplished players with some fine guitar and fiddle playing in particular featuring. Writing in a traditional field they have a fine grasp of what makes the music tick with some of the songs seeming almost to be plot summaries from the pen of Thomas Hardy. This is most to the fore on Flowers With Jamie and the spinechilling Charlotte Dymond while the title song is an acappella telling of a lovers’ tryst that ends in tragedy. With an excellent instrumental The Mouse, The Bird & The Sausage (named after a Brothers Grimm tale) included this is an impressive album that belies the sisters’ relative youth. They come to Scotland in September appearing in Edinburgh.