'Introducing' from The Waggon Tales(April 28, 2013)
The Wagon Tales appeared on my radar at the tail end of 2011 with their ‘tradition-steeped’ but ‘unafraid-to-venture’ brand of alternative bluegrass. Their latest album ‘Introducing’ is an anthology of classic bluegrass provided through self-penned pieces driven with natural energy, musical dexterity, fiery vocals and precisely placed harmonies. It’s an old expression but so true here - this band is so tight you cannot see the join.
What makes The Wagon Tales as good as they are is quite simply the sum of the parts. There’s Joe Auckland and Joe Hymas with their blistering and intricate banjo and mandolin breaks, Kate Robinson with her scintillating fiddle, Lewis Cohen’s solid guitar work and gutsy vocals (that epitomise the blues) and Ben Somers, solid as a rock on bass and hitting just the right highpoints on sax. Individually they are accomplished musicians. Collectively they are a force to be reckoned with.
The song mix remains as varied as in previous recordings, ranging from sombre expression to unleashed power, but this album is better produced and serves up a double-strength, full-fat, highly flavour plateful of bluegrass pleasure. I love ‘Introducing’ and you will too – from ripping in with ‘The Walker’ with its powerhouse vocals, through the brassy richness of ‘Slowly Slowly’ and the gentle sadness of ‘Butterlies’ to the searing instrumental pace of ‘F.I.T.S’. And while we're picking favourites, other tracks more than worthy of a long hard listen are the damn fine ‘Carry That Load’, the harmony-rich ‘Another Cup of Coffee’ plus the mellow reflection of ‘Home Again’.
I'm prepared to bet that with this album The Wagon Tales will break through to a much wider audience - way beyond authentic bluegrass aficionados. If that doesn’t happen then someone somewhere isn’t paying enough attention. Find them here: www.wagontales.co.uk
Reviewer: Tom Franks