Label: ‘LITTLE PARADISE’ - Genre: ‘Alt/Country’ – Release Date: ‘April 2011′- Catalogue No: ‘LPR001′
It is said that in order for music not to become stagnant and die, it must reinvent itself so as to progress, and here we have a major reinvention.
HOWLIN’ LORD come from Bristol and this, their debut album, falls within the country music genre, but it goes beyond that, harnessing some of the punked up energy that was apparent in American bands like The Gun Club. In ‘Gold Fury’, Howlin Lord’ have produced a classic album, with some of the best and inventive music and lyrics for a while.
Opening with ‘Once Proud Town’ a country blues rocker, this just doesn’t let up: – “White heat on freezin’ streets, this time o’ year don’t stop to eat/ Money talks and mine just walks, ten paces in my own tired feet.”
This is an anthem for the dispossessed. When Mark Legassick sings“I’ve been down so low I met myself on the killin’ floor” you can almost feel the pain. As an opener to an album, this is just brilliant, and even features a great whistling solo, the sort of thing you’d never hear from any of the shoegazing indie bands!
‘You Again’, has the Johnny Cash boom-chicka-boom beat and is a vitriolic outpouring against a heartless ex: – “Don’t you recall that you hurt me so, I never had much, but you still took it all,I laid down while you tortured my soul.” The lyrics work so well here because of the context in which they are set, and the country music genre is perfectly fitting for this.
‘Wade Right In’ is a slow country rocker, that on first hearing reminded me a bit of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash’s ‘Girl From The North Country’. This appears to be a song about letting go, and is a perfect slow burner, that would make an excellent single.
Whilst there isn’t a duff track on the album, the immediate highlights for me apart from the above were: – ‘From My Seat At The Bar’(an aching love song with some pointed lyrics): – “Throw darts at the board for you, they all hit the wall for you,Fall down at the floor for you. Can’t say I’m not tryin’.” Featuring Beth Rowley assisting on vocals, this is an updated style of some of the classic country duets and you can’t do anything but fall in love with this song.
‘Egyptian Cotton’ which the publicity blurb states is “a home recorded solo effort” is a charmingly lo-fi acoustic number that is well worth several plays. ‘Funny Way Of Winning’ is a song all about taking the knocks in life and trying to come up smiling: – “Fight like you’re not taking a kicking, row like your boat isn’t sinking.”
Only once every couple of years does a debut come out which paradoxically is both stunning in its simplicity and in its complexity. This is one of the ‘must have’ purchases this year.
Review by Nick Browne