‘Them Old Bones’ - Jo Carley and The Old Dry Skulls - a sultry mix and an angry presence(June 19, 2017)
The pulsating core of ‘Them Old Bones’, the debut album from Jo Carley and The Old Dry Skulls, takes pretty much all the preconceptions you might have and throws them out. The album arrives with a sultry mix and an angry presence. It demands attention, through a blend of old time roots music suffused through a punk drive, edged with essence of Ska and just in case there’s room for anything else ... there’s a synthesis of gypsy folk, jazz, country, bluegrass and blues.
The band is primarily Jo Carley plus songwriting partner and husband, Tim Carley. As needed, they recruit an assortment of like-minded musicians to join in the mayhem. There are dark warnings, powerful accusations, gritty observations and singular attitude... this is a musical heist that robs you of ordinary and replaces it with exceptional. ‘Black Flies’ opens and you’re out of your comfort zone and into their world, from there ‘Brother You better be Praying’ and ‘Devil in a Black Dress’ take no prisoners as the unwary find themselves sucked into the maelstrom. There’s no soft, fluffy covers laid over this music, it’s primeval, raw and visceral. Tracks like the machinegun-percussion of ‘Dance ‘til you’re Dead’ and the ominous arrival of ‘Nails and Needles’ hold a gut-level attraction that pulls you along to wherever they’re heading, while ‘Into the Fire’ is strong enough to tear a rift in space and time.
‘Them Old Bones’ features Jo Carley (lead and backing vocals, mandolin, violin, washboard, percussion, keyboards) Tim Carley (guitars, banjo, kick-drum, hi-hat, percussion, backing vocals, piano, stomps, claps, Vibraslap) with help on selected tracks from Hawkeye Houlihan (double bass) James Le Huray (upright electric bass, electric bass, Fender VI bass, electric guitar) Alex McGowan (slide guitar, guitar, jaws harp, claps, stomps, percussion, vocals) and Paul-Ronney Angel (harmonica).
Review: Tim Carroll