Review Archive

The Emporers of Wyoming - distinctive, low down and dirty Americana

(July 18, 2012)

Music can be delicate and gentle, sometimes powerful and evocative, occasionally inspirational and Emperors of Wyomingmoving ... and then every so often it’s just low down and dirty. That’s music with a raw unadulterated edge, tunes that howl and acid-etched vocals. It gets right inside, hits your animal gene and drives deep roots. It’s the music equivalent of straight Jack Daniels, black caffeine-fuelled coffee, ultra-rare steak, good cigars and enough gutsy drive to make the instruments ache. And that’s The Emperors of Wyoming and their eponymous album due out in September 2012.

The Emperors of Wyoming deliver raw, distinctive Americana. Think big block engines running on a mixture of acoustic, country rock, folk-rock blues and blown throughout with supercharged energy. And that doesn’t mean that every track leaves the line at 100 mph to tear into the distance; some simply gather inexorable force and drive away with the haul of a heavy truck.

This 10-song album is front to back satisfaction from the instantly catchy, angst-filled ‘Bittersweet Sound of Goodbye’ which really does set the scene for what follows. There’s the jangly-guitar drive of ‘Avalanche Girl’, the tough love of ‘I’m Your Man’ with its real-life lyrics setting a too-familiar scene, and the ever hopeful, lost-soul narrative of ‘Cornfield Palace’.

Listening to this album has a distinctly illicit experience. You keep feeling that somewhere, a health and safety someone is about to burst in and proscribe this music, citing ‘Brand New Heart of Stone’ and ‘The Pinery Boy’ as especially corrupting. Now that may not be what the artists intended but this is a compliment for earthy vocals, addictive tunes, hook-driven melodies and scorching arrangements. If you’re going to break the mould and take a punt on any album this year then do it with this one. Lights down, bottle open, kick back, lover on your arm and luxuriate in this – never mind what mama said - it will do you good.

Phil Davis (lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, harmonica) Butch Vig (drums, percussion, keyboards, guitar, backing vocals) Pete Anderson (bass, 12-string electric guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals) and Frank Anderson (lead guitar, lap steel, pedal steel guitar, keyboards, banjo).

The Emperors of Wyoming due out in September 2012 on Proper Records.

Reviewer: Tom Franks

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