Paths is an album that will take you on a journey exploring myriad interconnecting musical influences. Wille and The Bandits do not take us on a chaotic journey of no destination, there is a clear plan that is to produce a sound that intrigues, excites and never leaves you stranded in a backwater of mediocrity. The musicianship from Wille, Matt and Andrew the trio that never disappoints is always of a high standard and always deliver exceptional musicality. They blend and twist the gritty vocals with a plethora of textures and tones into a million layers they are to music what the mille-feuille is to patisseries. They have done more than give blues-rock a spring clean. Wille and The Bandits have re-imagined it twisting and turning into the musical blender influences from the British Blues revolution of the sixties, poured in World Music and memories of European Folk and swirled in the blues for a musical palette that is uniquely their own.
The delay in actually writing the review is simple I keep starting and getting sucked into the music and the words are dissolved in to the power of the music. So there was only going to be one way to remedy this conundrum start with the first track One way and move logically through the album of so many highlights.
We are taken back to the power and simplicity of bottle neck slide with the opening chord full of authentic feel and drive as Wille opens the album then the energy and light pours in with Andy’s drums that thunder reflecting the power of the lyric. This is modern blues with the words driving the melodic refrain as western culture, politics and identity are examined. The chorus is powerful an cannot be ignored as the refrain with leaders named Mandela, Ghandi and the One Way. The way is compassion and tolerance leading to peace to set the world free of hatred. The opening song is full of power, vision and the promise of hope as we dance the night away.
Drums and bass curl around the melody and lyrics as the Bandits find their inner funk as they demand Make Love, with its retro feel and the plea for not the war and politics of eye for and eye. This is a protest song straight out of the sixties, sadly still so relevant for today’s chaotic and unhappy world. The mood changes with epic Blues Rock of Victim of the Night finding solace and the added interest of Hammond and vocals of Alex Hart.
Another twist in the lexicon of sounds the Bandits produce with Four Million Days. The tempo slows the energy is contained on the ballad that pulls you deep into the narrative as we look for redemption. This is a song that refuses to let you go away the temptation is to put it on repeat. The lead break is the magic of the lap-steel intertwining with the melancholy of the vocals. The style is uniquely worldly creating a soundscape that leaves you entranced. We enter the world of possibilities with a palette of sounds from our precious world. The Djmebe beats and percussive drive reflecting the precious resources that create our natural environment that needs protection. Whatever issue Wille and The Bandits address they never lecture they cajole with an urgency through the beats and tones and the story that the lyrics opens your eyes and ears to.
Inspired by Chris Cornell who took his own life and a favourite singer of Wille inspired How Long. The energy is stripped down and raw reflecting the emotion of Chris Cornell’s untimely death and the time it takes to get over depression. Home is intoned with reference to Cornwall as the song wails with despair and the inner grief and the cleansing power of the ocean. The beat picks up and the energy and grit is back with Find My Way and finding your way in a world dominated by profit for the rich. This is a number that rocks with a worldly wonder as the use of Indian scales changes the emotion and feel of the music. Plus a fuzzy beat that weaves itself around the melody giving the number a raw intensity of this tribal sound that reflects Wille’s intone I will Find My Way.
Closing out the album with Retribution, with a number that pulls together the journey they have taken us on musically and emotionally, many Paths have been trodden on. We re-explore, politician’s failure in protecting our planet. Profit is king not the drive to hand over a planet that is environmentally and culturally diverse to future generations, where is the accountability. The message all wrapped up in a high energy Southern Rocking vibe.
This is an album that will delight you for a long time to come. Whether you hear the full album from the opening track, One Way to the last Retribution or on random shuffle or a track pops up in a playlist you will get the surge of adrenalin that only brilliant music can give you. Wille & The Bandits have created a sound that flows like a tidal river full of ebbs and contrasting currents. They have captured in their net a collection of moods and emotions. We are sad, happy, uplifted and the lyrics are thought-provoking challenging our approach to life. Above all the message is be true to yourself, live your life through peace not war, listen and be heard. The melodies swirl around the gritty vocals of Wille as the blend of the vast variety of strings and percussive sounds they use. They never create chaos but weave a fabric of sound that works together never overpowering each other giving each instrument time to state their role in the music that is complex and ultimately is powerful listening. Why, because the lyrics connect as they explore the complexity of the issues of the day and distil them into a melodic flow that captures our thoughts and concerns.
Every track has its story to tell and those not highlighted are still brilliant but we all need some mystery so listen and find your own interpretation. On this stunning album.
TENdoodle paws out of TEN …
- One Way
- Make Love
- Victim of the Night
- Keep it on the Down-low
- Judgement Day
- How Long
- Find My Way
- Watch You Grow
Wille & The Bandits are:
Wille Edwards – Lead Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Electric Lap Steel, Dobro & Electric Weissenborn
Matt Brooks – Six-String Electric Bass, Five String Double Bass, Cello, String Arrangements & Backing Vocals
Andrew Naumann – Drums, Djembe, Congas, Wood and Steel Tongue Drums, Udu, Shakers, Jews Harp & Backing Vocals