A word so evocative it conjurs up thoughts of late night bars, whiskey, smoke filled rooms with a band playing the type of songs of love, lost, regret and redemption.
Apart from my actual Country music interest, I’ve never listened to a lot of Americana music and couldn’t really name you any acts that trade in it. However without knowing it, I probably have and you probably have. It’s everywhere and weaves itself into pretty much every genre I like.
However if I was a betting man I would say that the prerequisite for playing Americana is being from the land of the free! The good old US of A.
Well no, it doesn’t actually – so enter West On Colfax. Hailing from the good old NW of England.
It makes sense really, the long hot summers, the dusty roads, the sense of loss and abandon isn’t that the NW in a nutshell?- it must be the best breeding ground for this type of music – Maybe weather wise not a correct description but what the hay, the rest is right.
For me it will always go back to the songs, the songwriters, the musicianship and if your someone that likes a bit of blues or soul in your rock n roll and likes to kick back of an evening with a cold one listening to some chilled out tunes you can be anywhere it doesnt matter. As I put on my intro page “Its not where your from….”
So what about “Barfly Flew By” – well I could just say it’s outstanding and for a debut album it ranks up there with some of the best I have ever heard.
Kicking off with the ultra catchy Choke Hold – the kind of song that you can belt out on a summer day as you drive up the M6 or Route 66. Its the kind of song that Mick Head and Shack would be proud of. Its a belter.
The Line – Very much a Rolling Stones vibe to this song – Exile on Main Street Era – its one of my favourites – underpinned with a great organ and Alan’s vocals.
Quick word on the singing – it so fits this music – the kind of world weary tone, but great warmth and depth to it. Reminds me of the great lost London Country band The Rockingbirds.
Misty Morning Blue – what a great title – “When the clouds kiss the hills, like when you first kissed me” – great lyric that.
The album flies past – each track links well into the previous – I really hope this album gets to a wider audience, it so deserves it.
Back out on the run is pure country – banjos sounding great – different vocalist on this one – harmonies and a sad lament.
New single and title track Barfly Flew By is more rocky – if I was clever I’d be able to say its Byrdsy at their countryish but I’m not – but its a really solid song and should introduce more to the band.
Cowgirl of the County – pretty good going to get this far into an album before any mention of Cowboys or Cowgirls. Well here it is and it doesn’t disappoint. A song of loss and bar drinking. Magnificient, we’ve all been there right. Looking for one more round. Great chrous btw.
What I like about this album is that it really is an excellent introduction into Americana for the novices (me) – its got that Johnny Cash feel of course, its got steel guitars, banjos, probably beards as well. But its so charming and delivered with love you can’t help but be taken away by it.
I’d love to know what the USA purists say about this – how they feel about a NW England band doing it better then them? Smacks of The Beatles doing what they did and selling it back – High Praise.
The album ends with Light Again – “its getting cold and things looking bleak” sings Alan. Its one of those songs that finds the light at the bottom of darkness. “When the world lays weary on, you let it” “You’ll be Light again” “Fight Again” it repeats – its a fitting end to a truly great album. Americana it may be but its the type of music that fits in with everything I listen to and I hope as many others as possible.
Go listen – and let me know your thoughts