The Ale Marys – The Ale Marys

Album Review | Wee Dog Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

A gathering of cowboy hats and pink hair styles hailing from the West, not the west of Tombstone, Dodge City nor indeed Nashville, but rather West Yorkshire, where the husband and wife team of Gerry and Ani McNeice co-write all ten songs on this, the country pop quintet’s debut album release. There’s mellow guitars, with the occasional obligatory ‘twang’ and tasty harmonies, led by Mr McNeice’s warm delivery throughout. The thing that makes this album so easy to listen to is perhaps Dave Turner’s whistle and flute (instruments, not cockney rhyming slang for his dapper attire), which seems to temporarily take us away from the Wharfedale Prairie and to places new.

There’s one or two guest appearances of note, including Michelle Plum’s emotive vocal on “I Walk Alone”, former Yachts/Christians songsmith Henry Priestman on the Joanna, together with the velvet voiced Edwina Hayes on the George Jones influenced “Drinking Again” and David Hartley providing some pedal steel in all the right places. Reflecting the fun of the band’s live set, The Ale Marys ought to congratulate themselves for making an album that raises a smile in these unsmiling days, especially on such songs as “Party”, “The Rest of My Days” and “Easy Fool”, which feels like a return to Ry Cooder’s Chicken Skin Music period. Treat yourself to some infectious Wharfedale High Life, but be sure to wear your stetson with your wellies.

Choice Track: “Easy Fool” (NSV 485)