Beautifully Blurring the Lines Between Folk and Alt. Country
This is another one of those “whoops I missed it” albums that come along every now and again. Originally sent to me at the turn of the year by a trusted PR but got lost in the swell of new albums in January; then last week Richard, from the band themselves got in touch; totally unawares of my oversight …… presumably like so many other musicians he won’t read the review; so will never know about my Faux Pas!
First and foremost; this is the ‘other’ and apparantly ‘original’ The Wanted from Canada and not the Popsters from Ireland; so several of you might want to turn away now.
If you’re still with me; you’re in for a bit of a rare treat; as this The Wanted, are actually very good indeed; treading the path that marks out Alt. Country and Americana albeit with that Canadian ‘edge’ and trademarked ‘cool’ that is s difficult to put into words.
Opening track Way Down In The Hole has an urgency that I’ve not heard for a long time; with Natalie Rogers providing a breathy and almost breathless vocal performance worthy of The Ryman on a steamy Saturday night, and cohorts Jeff Rogers (guitar) and Richard Henderson (lap steel guitar) provide not just powerful musical accompaniment; but scary harmonies too …… hence; I’m in for the long haul.
In the bio the band make reference to Michael Timmins’ production; which took them into new areas that the trio didn’t know they were capable of performing; presumably this means songs like Jeff Rogers’ Roadhouse blaster Miss Me When I’m Gone and the Twangtastic Rotary Phone; which both sound as if they are from a band steeped in Southern States swampy grooves; and the album is all the better for them.
Timmins’ lightness of touch comes across on not just Natalie’s sad, sad crooning Stand Up and Weary Town Blues; and the harmonies on the latter might just send a shiver down your spine; but the slow and sultry Before The Fall, too.
There’s even an angsty and steamy Lo-Fi song; I Guess; sung by Richard Henderson in a grizzled Levon Helm manner ; but no matter; it is a definite ‘keeper’ here.
Although Track #1 Way Down In The Hole is apparantly a Tom Waits song; I’ve never heard it before; but the other ‘cover song’ is the ubiquitous Wayfaring Stranger; which is difficult to a bad version of but nonetheless a brave song to record, because of that and The Wanted certainly do it justice; using space to let the words breathe and Jeff Rogers’ intricate guitar picking to add extra pathos; as if it were needed, but works exceptionally well.
For a Favourite Song I’ve been torn between the haunting title track Strange Flight; a dreamy duet between Natalie and Jeff, which couldn’t come from anywhere other than Canada in my humble opinion; and the other Fire & Gasoline, which by The Wanted standards is quite punchy; even erring on something of a Country-Blues tip; and again the Richards’ dry grizzled tones reminding me of Levon Helm; which has to be a good thing …… so that’s where the accolade finally rests (sorry Natalie!).
Obviously we don’t have the capacity to review absolutely every album we receive; so some gems will sadly slip through the net ……. but I’m thrilled Richard got in touch after reading a review on the site; oblivious to me ignoring the album first time around …… don’t you make the same I made; try it then buy it …. you can thank me later.
Released March 2021
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