Punch Five Records
Hard Rockin’ Countrycana from Dallas’ Finest Bluegrass Duo.
In 2013 I claimed that I ‘had been suffering from banjo fatigue’ when I reviewed The O’s previous album Thunderdog, and ‘they restored my faith in that much maligned instrument.’
The same is true today; as the banjo (and pedal-steel) seem to be de-facto instruments on far too many Folk or Rock albums in a bid to make them appeal to Country and Americana fans alike; but in the case of John Pedigo it becomes a lead instrument in the vein of any Rock guitarist you can think of and alongside cohort Taylor Young on fiery acoustic guitar, absolutely necessary to The O’s unique blend of Country and Roots music.
Their fourth album opens with a right old barnstormer – Fourteen Days; encapsulating absolutely everything I love about Rootsy music in all it’s glory….coupled with the chorus of ‘All we got is three chords and the truth/Oooh oh oh/We got it all figured out.’
An acoustic guitar, banjo and harmonica never sounded so loud or passionate and, surprise-surprise things actually manage to get even better and fervid!
If you have ever seen the O’s play live you will know they give 100% on stage, kicking up a bigger ruckus than most Rock bands I’ve seen; and now thanks to producer Chris Smith they have managed to capture some of that electricity onto disc.
Shooting Star is full of wound up tension and Brand New Start sounds like the type of song that could actually make Bluegrass cool again; if it actually is Bluegrass.
For two musicians they sure put a lot into 3 minutes on Retribution with not a note or breath out of place or spare, all coming together alongside some really spiky lyrics that would be worthy of Townes Van Zandt’s early days.
The O’s can also do ballads when the mood takes them; although not mainstream radio style ballads, as even a cursory listen to Reaper or the beautifully intense Woken Up will testify.
I’m not sure if North American readers have heard of Justin Currie from Scots band Del Amitri, but they are/were a big deal around these parts a few years ago and he joins the dynamic duo on vocal duties for the glorious Woken Up.
Favourite song is a tight battle between the luscious Running on Fumes, which is as good a song as I’ve heard from the O’s; but the actual title of Halfway Sideways caught my attention when I first looked at the album sleeve and the song itself is a fist pumping, toe-tapping and hip-shaking doozy.
Howling harmonica, punchy acoustic guitar, punk banjo and Everly Brothers style harmonies all combine to create a minor Americana masterpiece….in my humble opinion.
Released October 28th 2016