Friday, 29 June 2018

ALBUM REVEIW : Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes - Some Girls (Quite) Like Country Music. Self-released

If first impressions carry a large weighting then Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes set off on the right footing. Parading their wares on the outside stage at last year’s Maverick Festival proved an instant hit with many folks and the scene was set to make serious inroads into the UK country and Americana community. It can sometimes be perplexing assessing a non-US act taking inspiration from a land many thousands of miles from home, but this does not preclude a successful re-enactment especially with any pseudo content banished. Further proof of Lachlan Bryan’s impressive tilt into the genre lavishly displays right across his new album, strikingly titled SOME GIRLS (QUITE) LIKE COUNTRY MUSIC.

The relevance of this artist hailing from Australia is one that you can choose to apply or not, although characters and surroundings from his homeland play a significant part in the record. The secret to this release, his fourth since commencing recording under this name in 2009, is the honest and straightforward way he goes about tackling the song subjects. To provide some content to the style adopted, think more along the singer-songwriter route with a slice of fiddle and steel casually added to spice up the array of ballads. The song writing makes you sit up right from the off with the high impact line ‘women, do what you must, cos there ain’t a man in this world you can trust’ that leads you into ’I Hope That I’m Wrong’. From that moment, you are caught in the web of a writer with plenty of sense to contribute to a progressive agenda.

Throughout the twelve song-fifty one minute playing time, there is plenty of engaging content to absorb. Like many of the better records currently around, this album is not designed for the quickly discarded pile. Interesting snippets and facets will continue to emerge after endless plays, though listening will never sink into a chore as an affable fa├žade is painted to the vocals and soundtrack.

To place the album on safe ground, tracks one to seven barely have the width of a song sheet between them when deciphering potential stand out candidates. In line with the thought-provoking title and cover photographs that throw up a million potential story angles, two of the opening half a dozen songs roll out as duets with female singers Shanley Dell and Lindi Ortega. The former leads off on ‘The Basics of Love’ a song with more than a casual reference to the Waylon Jennings classic ‘Luckenbach Texas’. The more familiar Lindi, to fans in the UK anyhow, helps on ‘Don’t You Take it Too Bad’ as we delve deeper into traditional country music territory. This style is replicated in 'It Tears Me Up (Every Time You  Turn Me Down)' with added fiddle making an appearance.

Piano ballads frequently pop up across the record as evidenced by ‘Sweet Bird of Youth’ in the early stages and ‘Someone You Know So Well’ at the end. ‘Careless Hearts’ possesses the strongest chorus hook, while if you fancy a little waltz ‘Stolen Again’ will oblige. The key story telling song on the album appears in the #2 slot with the starkly titled ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Middle Aged Man’; a song that you will probably go back to a few times to grasp. In the midst of this song, the album title appears as a lyric to shed some light on possible meanings.

Elsewhere ‘In New York’ is a descriptively inspired experience piece complete with the obligatory guitar solo. This heads a trio of tracks in the final throes of the album including the quietly mindful ‘Peace in the Valley’ and a dose of personally injected twang into ‘The Cemetery Near My Home Town’.

There are times when listening to Lachlan Bryan reminds me of Cale Tyson, with the stripped out southern twang of course. Such association scores high in my book and SOME GIRLS (QUITE) LIKE COUNTRY MUSIC is a most welcome entry to the music collection. 2018 sees Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes return to the UK for a run of shows including a re-appearance at the Maverick Festival. No newbie surprises are expected this time, just an accomplished set from a top rate artist bringing an impressive batch of new songs to the party. Good stuff is heard and felt in this album and fundamentally that is all that matters when connecting an artist to a listener.