Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Wild Ponies - Radiant : No Evil Records

Not only do East Nashville based duo, Wild Ponies put on excellent shows, they are also in the game of making exceedingly thoughtful and interesting records. RADIANT is the second album released under the band moniker Doug and Telisha Williams have decided to use and it does a fine job in defining the musical ethos that comes across in their live shows. A multitude of shades paint the fa├žade and interior of this record, while shaping a style which reflects their influences, principles and outlook.

The short gap between US and Europe release dates has heightened the anticipation for this album and it is sure to prove a popular buy during the duo’s current run of UK dates. This includes an appointment at the Maverick Festival; a perfect all round fit for Wild Ponies. Many of the eleven tracks had a preview on the last tour towards the end of 2015 with the reception being positive upon first listen. The recorded versions have lived up to the early promise with the four musicians assigned to the production adding finesse to a sound not afraid to hop between tempos and focus.

The writing input is an exciting mix of the acclaimed and the familiar with co-writes generally ruling the roost. Among the names joining Doug and Telisha on the credits include Robby Hecht, Amy Speace and Amelia White, all artists who have been active with records of their own over here in the last couple of years. Amelia, who is also playing this year’s Maverick Festival, actually contributed on two songs: ‘Home is Where the Road Goes’ and the sassy ‘Big Blue Sun’. One song on the album where Doug and Telisha didn’t seek any help is the strong closer ‘Love is Not a Sin’ which is an impassioned response to the significant changes that have occurred with same sex marriages.

Photo by Nielson Hubbard
This was of one of the distinctly memorable songs previewed at shows last year alongside album opener ‘Born with a Broken Heart’ and ‘Unplug the Machine’. The first of these has the helping writing hand of Amy Speace and generally comes across as a leisurely dark and moody song. On first listen it sounded like an Angaleena Presley composition both vocally and in song structure, and repeat plays confirm this. The second is packed with straight up rock vibes and is an unashamed assault on the overbearing presence technology can have on our lives. Not a track to be filmed at gigs, if you’re that way inclined.

The pondering and evocative vocals of Telisha are prevalent throughout the record with a neat interjection from Doug on the jaunty effort ‘Mom and Pop’, also packed with groovy guitar. Both vocal inclusions have a distinct personality to the voices with Telisha exuding oodles of southern mystique.

Musically the album reaches across several barriers with steel providing some delicate touches, Doug’s electric guitar periodically letting loose and Telisha’s double bass keeping immaculate time.

The title track ‘Radiant’ is worthy of mention and not just for its origin. Doug and Telisha were bowled over by a set of lyrics from the twelve year old Mariah Moore that they encountered while on a project and suitably turned them into a high quality temperate track. At the other end of the scale is Nashville A list songwriter Sally Barris who contributed to the gorgeous soothing lullaby ‘The Night We Never Met’, one with reassuring serenading qualities and loads of steel.

Wild Ponies have served up a treat for new and old fans alike with the surfacing of RADIANT. This dedicated release has all the nuances of an album subtly encompassing the best parts of a record seeped in the genres of country, folk, alt-rock and roots. Doug and Telisha Williams make damn good music and it’s a pleasure that opportunity has presented itself to ensure it is internationally available, both in person and on record. 

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