Six Shooter (label)
11 October 2019 (released)
27 August 2019
The Dead South are Glastonbury performers and the only Bluegrass band ever to headline Brixton Academy.
They are also an exceptionally talented 4 piece acoustic Bluegrass outfit.
They aren’t just limited to Bluegrass though and I love the way that they can turn the traditional instrumentation – banjo, mandolin, guitar, cello - into a country/Blues/soul/Bluegrass place, switching codes with ease.
I have to admit that the album grabbed me from the off. The thrummmm of the cello against the banjo on ‘Act of Approach – all 47 seconds of it – tells you exactly where you are, deep in Saskatchewan and in amongst modern Bluegrass pickers.
That it leads straight into the divine ‘Diamond Ring’ carries the momentum with harmonies and guitar alongside the banjo and cello – no ‘ordinary’ Bluegrass this – to tell a perfect story of what a man will do for his love.
‘Blue Trash’ sets off at an incredible pace but still manages to switch up the rhythm and the speed of the song but it changes once again at breakneck pace over a superb cello solo before slowing up over sublime harmonies at the end.
Of the more ‘straight’ country numbers here ‘Crawdaddy Served Cold’ is a belter while ‘Alabama People’ almost has the feel of a Reverend Peyton track cut with a big dollop of Frank Zappa (It’s great by the way!).
All of the tracks here were written by the band except a chilling version of JC Ortiz ‘Black Lung’ and ‘Heaven In A Wheelbarrow’ by Keiran Semple but they make all of the songs their own and it really is no surprise that they are held in such high esteem by a lot more than just the Americana community.
One of the best albums I’ve heard this year, it is just a superb set of tracks from start to finish.