Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins
The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow is a majestic five piece, swollen here by some guests and a rock solid rhythm section. Musically and vocally they are like one of those all you can eat buffets, you have an overloaded plate balanced on your palm and you still keep finding new things to add to the bewildering array you have already gathered. The band dance, jig and steamroller through Southern Rock, Soul, County Rock and Gospel, playing with a swagger and a collective grin. Band Together is a very good listen and sounds like it’s bloody good fun to play. At times with five vocalists, unpicking who you are listening to is a challenge, I’ve gone with ‘writer sings their song’ without any identification of individual voices on tracks.
To begin with “Pass The Peace” opens with that smooth sound Ithat typified The Hothouse Flowers and their Celtic Soul. The brass, the call and response backing vocals, the powerful lead are just perfect. Greg Daniel Smith and David Tanklefsky’s electric guitars kick in and the unmistakable air of swampy Southern Rock that ties straight back to Muscle Shoals, The Allman Brothers and even Lynyrd Skynyrd, wafts through the speakers. The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow is Cooking and it’s only the first track. “Don’t Cross My Land” again starts County gentle, but quickly builds, flaring and swaggering with huge drums, taut riffing guitars and powerful vocals. Hang on to your hat and prepare to punch the air as again those twin guitars spar and roar around the speakers. Arlo Guthrie of all people, yes him, adds stabs of harmonica to this charged political song. There is power, but there is also a message and some bite. Balancing light and shade the track fades away to voice and guitar, before that 70s classic false ending and a final smouldering wig out. With a utterly killer bass line like “Town Called Malice” by The Jam at their Curtis Mayfield best “Rose on the Vine” is a stone cold classic. With what I guess is Greg Daniel Smith’s vocal ( as he wrote the song), sounding like a smouldering, sublime, 70’s Jim Capaldi, this track oozes class and has the feel of a cover, it is that timeless.
“Following Your Tears” could crash after the children’s choir intro, but the huge but nuanced vocal from Chris Merenda, as rock gospel soul as Leon Russell or Joe Cocker steals the show and grabs your attention. “Reasons” from Tory Hanna’s superb trumpet to its killer call and response vocal is a gentler to still tightly wound classic. The lyric, the groove and the tune have you checking to make sure it’s not a cover that’s how right it all sounds. “Rock and Roll Deja Vu” erupts out if the speakers with some monster guitar riffs and another perfect rock vocals that brings back memories of funky soulful Jim Capadi belting out “Short Cut Gonna Draw Blood.””Perfect Day” has a Celtic Folk meets Electric Country swagger and roll, with a top down, foot down driving a back road singing along at the top of your voice vibe. “Hey Lady” has a huge hook, killer chorus and a classic rock production. Guitars crunch and spar with the brass alongside another superb vocal from Billy Keane, that bottles a feel good summer vibe and a truly anthemic lyric, like those radio friendly monster hit Hootie and the Blowfish tracks. “I Bet The World” is a cracked Country classic, with a feeling bad to feel good lyric and one of those part choir part Dr Hook choruses. “Lay Down In Your Arms” is another gospel infused country classic, the lead vocal from Keane has a touch of the Aaron Neville vibrato and the whole track burns with a spiritual intensity.
This is a solid classic from a band who have made a considerable impression as a live band, playing along Deertick, The Felice Brothers and The Indigo Girls. This album is a quiet storm that just keeps giving on multiple listens and sounds very fine indeed turned all the way up. OK so released Nov 2019, I’m reviewing this one late, so it missed my Ten Of The Best for that year, but its penciled in for 2020 and I challenge the next eleven months or so, to better this for confidence, vim, vigour and that ‘let’s party like its 1974 Rock n Roll’ spirit.
Choice Track: Pass the Peace (NSV 493)