The Railsplitters The Faster It Goes
The Railsplitters are a five-piece string driven crew from Colorado and are yet another band who use traditional instruments but who are bang up to date regarding their song writing. While there’s one traditional song here (Salt, Salt Sea) it’s an ocean away from the gloom of its forebear (The House Carpenter) with a contemporary feel. At times here and elsewhere on the album there’s the impression that we’re listening to musings and notes from singer Lauren Stovell’s diary as she sings about upstart Romeos trying to impress her (You) and a year of romance (Seasons). This is impressive as the majority of the songs are written by the male members of the band, Dusty Rider and Peter Sharpe, both managing well to inhabit the female psyche. Best is Rider’s tale of a young mother clinging to the hope that her husband will return on Met That Day with Stovell at her most plaintive. Currently The Railsplitters are playing their debut UK and Ireland datesand the album is released on July 6th
The Honeycutters. Me Oh My
From Asheville, North Carolina, The Honeycutters are based around the strong vocals and fine song writing of Amanda Platt. The basic line up of mandolin, pedal steel, guitar, Dobro, bass and drums is enhanced in the studio with keyboards, electric guitar and trumpet leading to a warm wallow in some intricate and finely sketched playing. This is immediately apparent on the lengthy and rather glorious All You Ever which blossoms from its tentative opening with a drumbeat underpinning Platt’s wearied vocal into a full blown pedal steel mandolin and keyboard borne country rock affair. Platt dips into country soul territory on what is the antitheses of Stand By Your Man on the powerful title song as she sings “some girls marry and some girls wait, some girls worry ’bout judgement day, some do better without that ball and chain” while Little Bird is a song that could have been penned by Mary Gauthier and is delivered with the same wearied feel that Gauthier does so well. While Platt stands up for downtrodden women elsewhere (Not That Simple) there are some upbeat moments here with the opening Jukebox a fine slice of honky tonk philosophy while Ain’t It The Truth is a punchy slice of Loretta Lynn styled fight back against all of those rotten men. There’s 14 songs here and everyone is a winner with Platt and the band coming across as ones to watch out for.
Ballad Of Crows
Back to the UK (and Germany) for this eponymous album featuring Steve Crawford and Pete Coutts along with Sascha “Salossi” Loss. With a sound that fuses classic west coast harmonies with a traditional Scottish feel there’s a temptation to recall the likes of Gallagher & Lyle all those years ago but BOC are rootsier. Crawford and Coutts handle guitar, mandolin, and vocals with Loss adding additional guitar, vocals, bass, fiddle and Sansula (kalimba). With additional texture from guests on fiddle, accordion, cello and slide guitar the album is a well measured collection of rustic notes that certainly grows on the listener with repeated plays; a sweet late night pleasure that might summon up another duo from the seventies, Crosby & Nash. A cover of Tim O’Brien’s Brother Wind begs the comparison but overall the songs, in the main written by Davy Cattanach along with Crawford and Coutts hark back to halcyon seventies days.