_GIRLS, GUNS AND GLORY – SWEET NOTHINGS
2011 – Lonesome day
This is so close to being a very good album but ultimately is a disappointment, at least to me. There are some decent country songs on the album but on several this very good band seem to plunge a little too far into a country rock sound that doesn’t suit the songs. By the same token, whilst there is plenty of scope in country music to avoid the glossy Nashville pitfalls, on a few tracks that is exactly where this album goes. It seems to either rock a little too much or veer too far into ‘mainstream country’ thus making the album seem unbalanced.
The band consists of Ward Hayden on lead vocals, acoustic guitar and most of the songwriting, Chris Herschel plays electric guitar, Paul Dilley on bass and Michael Calabrese on drums. All are highly accomplished musicians and much of the playing is exceptional. However, whilst Hayden is a very good vocalist i just don’t like the breaks in his voice that threaten to turn into a yodel. Every time I’ve listened to the album I’ve found myself trying to second guess where it was going to crop up next! Of course it could be something that is entirely natural to him but it just gives the feeling that he is trying to emulate someone such as Dwight Yoakam but in more of a rock band setting.
The songs are all well written and cover lost love, unrequited love, misguided love and the flow of life as we all move on! On Last Night I Dreamed, the Dwight Yoakam feel is more prevalent as it comes across as pretty much straight country and I’m sure Yoakam would have been happy to record it, but it is all rather cloying and sweet despite the excellent steel guitar. 1000 Times actually benefits from a more straight country handling, with Sarah Borges lovely vocals helping out on this duet that has more of a sparse treatment and is driven along by an excellent brushed snare and bass beat. Mary Anne is a pleasant enough mid tempo country rocker that despite an excellent guitar solo doesn’t really go anywhere, whilst This Old House is a very good mid tempo country rocker paean to growing up and moving on.
Whilst the songs are well written they don’t bring a particularly original slant to any of the stories, but they would have benefitted from a more consistent style or approach. As already mentioned Hayden’s vocals can grate despite their tunefulness but he does possess one of those purer voices that would fit well into mainstream country. Then again maybe it’s just a case of that old cliché that the band are too alt. for the mainstream but too mainstream for alt! In the end the album would have benefitted from the band deciding themselves which way to go. Still a very good band though!