Sparky and Powerful 21st Century Schizoid Bluegrass.
I sometimes, if not regularly struggle with Country-Folk, ‘Hill Music’ or especially Bluegrass; but a s a favour for a friend who is promoting The Tiller’s 2019 UK Tour I’ve persevered; and …….. do you know what? I’m now rather smitten with this feisty collection of fabulous songs.
The Hoedown starts straight away with The Weald and the Wild; each band member puts so much energy into this song you feel the vinyl stretching at the edges as Sean Geil powers through a right royal vocal performance.
Sometimes this type of music can be either ‘worthy’ or ‘wishy washy’; but not The Tillers; their’s a defiant Punk spirit throughout just about every song here; most especially Migrant’s Lament; which is as contemporary a theme and song as the 21st Century needs and deserves; and while not quite as sparky, Revolution Row is probably the Bluegrass song Steve Earle should have written; but couldn’t …… thankfully The Tillers have; and the world is a much better place.
While taking a very Traditional template these guys make The Old General Store is Burning Down and Riverboat Dishwashing Song into cool Country tunes for everyone to enjoy, without ever straying too far the Bluegrass Reservation.
As this is ‘Traditional Country Music from start to finish, there is obviously more than enough banjo and fiddle to satisfy even the oldest and most wizened Hillbilly; but the way Mike Oberst and Joe Macherat use these much maligned instruments; they ROCK!
Mona is a prime example; with both instruments on fire as Sean and Aaron Geil’s acoustic guitar and bass provide a steady spine for the other two to bounce off as Sean belt’s out an amazing slice of Folk Rock!
Before I get onto my Favourite Song; I have to mention the exquisite and delicate storytelling these guys put into their own songs; with album closer Another Postcard being beautiful and brittle in equal measures and if Woody Guthrie’s All You Fascists Bound To Lose hadn’t been included would easily have taken the title; but ‘that song’ is here …….. so all bets are off.
Back in the late 1970’s when London was Burning and Punk was in the ascendancy, no Red Wedge or AFL Gig wasn’t complete until the artists assembled for the encore and hundreds of hormonal teenagers would scream out Woody Guthrie’s rallying cry.
Who’d have thought that 40 years later this Anthem would still be as apt and even ….. necessary today in 2019!
HEY….. all you need to know is that The Tillers do Woody justice; and even though Mike Oberst has had the temerity to add a couple of his own verses about ‘The Big Machine’ and ‘Race Hatred’ on to the end; they work perfectly well and add a very contemporary edge to an already cutting song.
Now; I can’t wait to see The Tillers power through these songs and more!
Released USA – OUT NOW
Released UK and Europe – TOUR MERCH