Waydown Wailers are at home on Backland Blues

New York State band Waydown Wailers are set to release their third album, Backland Blues. They like to call their music ‘Outlaw Jam’, which sounds more like a new variety of Robertsons than the mix of blues, country, pop and, yes, the Grateful Dead approach to guitar structures and soloing they actually convey. What cannot be denied is their ability to fuse these genres into an enjoyable offering that sees them deliver eight original compositions and three covers… a classic Elmore James, a similarly classic Byrds and a surprising version of a Larry Williams hit.
It all starts with a 12-bar blues, fresh from a raucous roadhouse. Back Door Woman Blues doesn’t surprise, but it is a well-crafted rendering of a classic style. The guitars are backed by the Professor on piano and they make a great noise together: the solo follows classic patterns too, but it still ticks all the boxes. I Want Your Soul has an interesting intro as Christian utilizes a B-bender on his guitar. This is a device attached to the guitar that, via a lever, can ‘bend’ the string (usually the B string) by up to a minor 1/3rd. It makes it sound like a pedal-steel slide and gives a lovely tone to all that follows. The solo is neat too as it expands over a great drum pattern. Elmore James’ Done Somebody Wrong gets the full slide treatment as befits a master of the bottleneck. This is well executed and flies across an almost jungle drum sound which takes it away from the original while maintaining credibility. A really strong interpretation of a true classic. Another Bump in the Road sees the band summon up their country influences backed again by Professor Louie on piano. This rolls along at a good pace and benefits from a very Doors like guitar solo. Their jam claims are justified on No Mercy, as the Dead references abound throughout the funky treat which has a great riff and a clever slide/picked duet in the middle: then add a layer of glorious keys from the Prof. and this is clearly the best of a good bunch. The surprise cover comes next… written by Larry Williams in 1958 but probably made most famous by four blokes from Liverpool. Dizzy Miss Lizzy almost works: it is still an enjoyable chunk of rock ‘n’ roll but, for me, it somehow jars with the rest of the album and, when your mind can’t get past Lennon and Harrison it is difficult to appreciate fully. That is forgotten as we get back into a country vein again. Every Passing Mile has twin guitars and vocal harmonies that give this a slightly aggressive feel, rather than the usual country droll and roll, and it’s all the better for that! Back to the Dead allusions on Somewhere in the Middle as we get the rock/country/folk blend they were masters of. Here the folk gives way to rock for the jam feel of the soloing on the outro, with a captivating keyboard…if you listen closely. There is a distinct Dylan feel to the storytelling and the intonation. I’m On the Hunt takes us, happily, into blues with a rock edge. Played in a minor key beloved of many bluesmen, this one works a treat. In fact, it is so familiar, I can hear Alice Cooper’s Blue Turk crossed with his Is It My Body… it is still damn good. The next track, State Of the Union, is a ‘remix’ of the song from their debut album and is a comment on err, the state of the union. It comes across as a bit reggae (the Wailers part perhaps?). It has a hint of CCR or the Outlaws on top of that reggae backing. It does work courtesy of a thoughtful solo but isn’t my favourite. Final track is a cover of The Byrds’ Lover of the Bayou… here it sounds as if Dylan and Knopfler were fronting the band, but the Waydown Wailers do it more than justice. The Hammond solo is a gem too from the venerable Professor Louie.
In summary, then, we have a group of distinctive talents with this band as they travel through the ages and the genres to bring us an interesting and varied package, which can still justifiably labelled blues. It has some adventurous work as well as predictable and will always be welcome on my music systems.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting:

  1. Back Door Woman Blues
  2. I Want Your Soul
  3. Done Somebody Wrong
  4. Another Bump In The Road
  5. No Mercy
  6. Dizzy Miss Lizzy
  7. Every Passing Mile
  8. Somewhere In The Middle
  9. I’m On The Hunt
  10. State of The Union – remix
  11. Lover Of The Bayou

Musicians:
David Parker: rhythm and lead guitar, vocals
Christian Parker: rhythm & B-bender, lead guitar
Connor Pelkey: bass, backing vocals
Michael Scriminger: drums, percussion

Special Guests:
Aaron Professor Louie Hurwitz: Hammond Organ, piano, keys, backing vocals
Miss Marie: backing vocals
Ron Keck: tamborine (track 8)
Alexander Scriminger: backing vocals Track 9

Recorded in Subcat Studios, Syracuse
Produced by Aaron Hurwitz

Waydown Wailers are at home on Backland Blues

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