Villiers and The Villains
Songs Of Love And Fate
Out of Armagh, Northern Ireland, Tony Villiers drinks deep not from the well of Irish Traditional music but from across the pond. The ten tracks, from the pen of a musician who uses words to pick up the melody, whilst playing with references steeped deep in the Southern States, music, blues, country this is music of the folk. Songs Of Love And Fate, their second studio album explores relationships, tears ad torment a collection of life’s experiences.
Joining Tony Villiers And The Villains are Kevin Maloney whose blues bass influences the tempo and texture of the rhythms of the tracks combined with Paul Meehan’s distinctive guitar and the percussive drumming of Aidan McGillion. The Melodies, beats and textures curl around and reinforces Tony’s vocals. Adding extra sounds on various tracks is the piano playing of Paul Gurney, fiddler Tony Fitzgibbon, and Danny Sheerin adds an extra layer of vocals when required. The album has an intensity as they explore styles and gather in influences from Dylan, Waits, Leadbelly and throughout the fertile lands of music from across the Southern States of America.
Opening with Devil and The Deep Blue Sea which has a freedom of spirit with the fiddle pulling all the elements together. The melody has a fun feel that invites you to get up have fun and enjoy yourself, upbeat and “you may rock or roll or think you are free”, as Tony sings. The blues enters the building with Rabid Dog Blues, with piano that would be at home in a hot juke joint. Other tracks explore the blues including Dear Mama, with the opening guitar licks pulling you into the piano once again, stripped back with a blues mood, he is worried about Mama with the drugs and gut rot wine. The story unfurls and we are pulled along with the lyrics and melody this is blues that connects. The guitar plays a central role in Lucky Rabbit Foot with a country blues feel, with a reference to howling wolf and harmonica this is storytelling that just works so well.
Songs Of Love and Fate captures the essence of Americana, as Tony’s lyrics explore the holy trinity of blues and country, devil, alcohol and women. He does this with style panache and an amused sense of irony that gives the album a lightness of touch, not too serious. The musicianship is stylish and the band work together ensuring the licks, riffs and percussive kicks meld and build on each other.
As we are counted into Swingin’ In The Sunshine you are transported to an urban electric feel. Like so much of the album there is a contemporary and engaging feel. The feel of Dylan is present throughout the album and especially so with combination of harmonica and jaunty feel on Ramblin’ Man.
Rock Salt is folk with a British feel, the songwriting is superb and three tracks in we have one of the strongest tracks in the collection that makes up Songs of Love and Hate. Throughout the album, snippets, licks and feel remind you of other songs and tunes, just for a moment then we are back with the Villiers and The Villains vibe.
Closing with a country ballad, with hints of Johnny Cash, On The Run brings the album to a close with a story of life on the run a western cowboy tale. Love and wistfulness, hope and sorrow combine and evoke a picture through the music and the words. You know from the first note the tale is not a happy one.
The album is stylish, listenable and with influences flowing like a river through the tracks. Textures, styles change giving the album vibrancy. But, for me I feel the band need to decide the road they really want to travel, developing a unique approach building on the base of Tony’s superb lyrics.
Villiers And The Villians – Songs Of Love and Fate – Independent
Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….
- Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
- Rabid Dog Blues
- Rock Salt
- Dear Mama
- Big Old Dancin’ Bear Blues
- Swingin’ Into The Sunshine
- Lucky Rabbit Foot
- Ramblin’ Man
- On The Run