Support your local sheriff, or at least your local bands so it’s hats off to Raging Twilight who are a five piece band of veteran musicians grouped around the song writing talents of Jack Law. Law, a seventies folk rock musician, returned to his music after a successful career in health and social care with a solo album before getting involved with Raging Twilight. It’s no secret that these guys (JC Danti, Dougie Harrison, Colin Robertson and Duncan Sloan) along with Law are no spring chickens (in fact two of them play in a band called Nae Spring Chickens) and surely the band name is a nod to Dylan Thomas’ entreaty to grow old disgracefully. Whatever, the band have had enough time to hone their chops and they display them well across the album.
Law was inspired to write most of these songs on a trip to the States, in particular, Utah, New Mexico and Texas and his words convey a fine sense of the south west; farmers facing foreclosure, folk riding the rails and rivers, and characters named Hog Tie Charlie and Black Jack Ketchum. As befits his lyrics the band lay down for the most part a ramshackle conglomeration of bluesy swagger and folky abandon with a little bit of Gospel soul thrown in for good measure. At times they recall the looser elements of Lindisfarne (as on Dust Bowl Rust Belt Blues and Nothing’s There) and there are some moments that struggle with You Can Fall But you Can’t Stay Down failing to make its mind up as to whether it’s a full-bellied guitar boogie or a mandolin driven sing-along. Law’s folk influences are to the fore on The Slip, a powerful solo number that again recalls Alan Hull of Lindisfarne while Hope Sails The River could hail from The Tyne or The Clyde despite its mentions of New Mexico and its swirling Band like swing.
The band are at their best when they settle into their blusier side. The opening Don’t Want A Lover kicks off with some nasty slide guitar before the organ kicks in, the song a forlorn southern blues lament with a whiff of The Allmans about it. Old Glass Jar is a jaunty mandolin and harmonica driven hop that would go down a storm in an old fashioned barn dance while Iron Way finds Law deep into Western mythology as the band come across as if they were playing in an old saloon, the harmonica weeping and the piano as barroom as they come. Dead Horse Point, a lament for hard scrabbled farmers, is the closest the band get to classic LA country as laid down by Jackson Browne et al with its very fine piano playing and restrained guitar lines and although Law’s voice struggles with the high notes it’s a lovely song. They close the album with a more soulful feel. Hard Times Bad Times hums and hymns with the instruments almost toy like before organ and guitar sweep in while You Can’t Get To Heaven opens with a Gospel chorus before Law sweeps in with his take on the philosophy of life while the band play their best yet as they offer up their own take on The Band’s sweet soulful sound.
It’s not an album that will set the heather on fire but it’s a grand listen and given the band’s influences it will surely resonate with those of us who have been keeping the flame alive since those halcyon teenage years, just about the same time Jack Law was striding the boards.