Third album in from the Midlands based murder balladeers, Mr. Plow finds them in fine form, gleefully documenting murder, mayhem and madness in their Gothic version of America, a land peopled by religious monster truck drivers, cocained cowpokes and grim amputees. They deliver this in a manner similar to The Handsome Family, sardonic wit, deadpan delivery and with a slightly spry step to the music. It’s no surprise that the band are popular at festivals as all the songs are gripping stories which the audience would savour. On record (and this is a vinyl release folks) the listener might miss the opportunity to join in on a mass tribute to the American art of death but there’s plenty here to enjoy.
Satan Wandered In opens the album with a Gospel flavour seeming to come from a possibly bleary-eyed Pastor regretting a night on the tiles and promising to get back on the straight and narrow. Dwight’s Roadside Grave, current favourite here, is a sweet sounding pedal steel embroidered country song could be a white trash movie script summary. The opening lines “I’ve never seen my Mother quite so happy/since Daddy smoked his crack pipe to the grave” set the scene for mean Uncle Dwight’s entrance. His comeuppance is tearfully and gleefully described. Excellent stuff. Bo Diddley Memorial Blues scoots along with boastful gloats worthy of the old gunslinger himself while snarling guitar cracks away. Jesus Loves Monster Trucks really doesn’t need any description, suffice to say that the spirit of Commander Cody is in the crankshaft here. There’s a sidestep into serious territory on Tango Para El Tigre Cautivo, a powerful dig at keeping animals in captivity which is leavened somewhat by the exotic delivery, a Tav Falco flavour twanged tango.
For the rest of the album it’s back to death and doom with Bag Of Bones a Kristofferson voiced suicide note with rippling guitars, Columbian Cowboy’s Roundup Time a clip clopped mash up of Gene Autry and Dennis Hopper both of whom would have had a silver spoon hung from their necks here. The album ends with the stripped back and folky Lonely Cold Waltz where Mr. Plow morphs into Johnny Cash in his latter days as he describes a wreck on the highway although we don’t know if anyone prayed.
So there it is. 40 minutes of killing fields, death and redemption. Lovely stuff indeed. Not The Beginning, Not The End is available on limited edition vinyl (with a CD thrown in) here or as a download.