Bray Vista - Sing My Darling
Country music is surely one of the easiest musical genres there is to slag off; connotations with right-wing politics, bucolic fashion and perhaps scariest of all, Shania Twain means that it's oft-dismissed by many music fans as cheesy faff. Yet the past decade or so has seen a renaissance-of-sorts (thanks to the likes of Gillian Welch, early Ryan Adams and Union Station), the emergence of the alt-country genre and the possibility that.. gasp.. country music may just have gained mainstream credibility at last. In a world - or a least a music scene - currently saturated with haircuts, skinny jeans and leather jackets, the music that the likes of Bray Vista are producing is a splash of Domestos down the pungent toilet bowl of rock. The nine-strong Wicklow collective's debut album, Sing My Darling, is as far removed from the Garden County as Nashville itself; but with band members with names like Neil, Brian and Mick, they're a band who are more green grass than bluegrass - in ethnicity, at least. Sing My Darling, their first full-length foray, is a strong collection of mostly uptempo early American bluegrass ditties, with production duties undertaken by former Frames knob-twiddler Karl Odlum. Replete with the customary tools of any country band (banjo, harmonica, slide guitar), there are no real surprises during the 55-minute long ensemble; though enjoyable to the alt-country aficionado and genre-embracing enthusiast alike, most tracks here will fail to engage the casual listener. But that's alright, too; there's a rich consistency to tracks like Your Eyes, on which lead male vocal Neil Tobin evokes a Chris Isaak-meets-Johnny Cash comparison; the Soggy Bottom Boys-harmonic thrill of My Good Man or the assured deliverance of Slim Pickings that's often surprisingly hard to procure from most debuts of any genre. Lead female vocal Allison Byrne also does, on occasion, provide a honey-soaked warble, even on the dispiritingly pedestrian You'll Always Stray; and on sunnily addictive Keep On Keepin' On provides pitch perfect backing vocals. There is much to be said for the confident and competent musicianship on display here; and Sing My Darling is a likeable incursion into straight-up country, if perhaps not for everyone.
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