The Mustangs, this well-known blues-rock band is back with another album a follow-up to 2017’s Just Passing Through, which took you on a journey. This album is another journey that is thought-provoking and is a clarion call for action. Listen with an open mind as the album is conceptual and driven by an environmental theme; the musicianship is superb, the message thought-provoking and the sound is contagious in all the right ways. It is unsurprising that the band has taken this path to explore musically as the drummer Jon Bartley is co-leader of the Green Party.
Opening the album is the clear call of birdsong you are gently sitting there in the green fields the tranquillity destroyed by the roar of a plane and the change in tone and texture of the birdsong. This then opens up the guitar intro and the strong lyric vocalised by Adam Norsworthy. This opening is an example of the thought put into the construction and production of this extraordinary concept album. King of The Green Fields is a mix of the power of a rock beat tempered with folk that is green and raw as we are drawn back from the grey urban world to green vibrant fertile fields. The beat of the drums have an urgency the lyrics have a whistful edge and the guitar a stinging vibrancy. The beat changes as the mood is demanding, with the bass drum building the tension as we explore Field & Factory. We all own our fields and factory in a love song as we view the story through this young couple’s eyes as once again the Mustangs take us on a journey. Once again traditional and modern combine creating a musical template of harmonies and conflict. Do not expect long lead breaks, blues riffs and rocky licks.
This is The Mustangs exploring the sounds that suit the lyrics, tone a feel of the album. What you do get is music that has something to say, entertains you and highlights that we may need the factories to provide us work and means to enjoy the countryside we cherish. It is finding that harmony that is the challenge so we have the green spaces we cherish full of life for future generations.
Three tracks in and we have a more familiar Mustang sound music with an edge and sting as we explore An Easy Place. Known as Frank’s Café. This is noisier and has a ringing beat; highlighting that urban spaces are easy social places to be and part of our fabric of life. Highlighting the conflict between urban modernity and the rolling cycle of nature. This flows neatly into Love Will Pass You By, once again the blues harp of Derek Kingaby appears as the plaintiff sound pulls the melody together fixing in to a tonal zone. We now have an upbeat walking song it has the feel of a country fair as we are Going Into Town. Picking up on the theme of having to work so hard to buy the things we need and now we are going into town to spend some money. Clever mixing of the older version of lovers off to the country fair in the melody and modernity of the lyrics going into town having fun. Both involve a new dress and spending some money and treat the girl you love like a Queen.
The mood swings it is refrained, introspective guitar playing from Adam with the harmonising of the vocals as they sing runaway now on Inter-Machine half-way through the voyage of exploration that Watertown is taking us on. The track has a fearfulness in its stripped-down vocals and full sound as the two dimensions clash with competing needs Urban and Rural have different speeds and demands. The closing refrain is full of inner melancholy, hurt and despair that cuts off abruptly. Leading us seamlessly into the guitar and drums this has the inner DNA of The Mustangs’ earlier albums. Then the vocals kick in with an anger this is a protest song. Kings Of Light has strong lyrics and the interaction of Adam’s vocals and Derek’s Harp is stunning as they sing the Kings Of Light chorus. This is the clarion call, we have to act and not sleep walk into a dystopian world of the green conquered and destroyed by the continuing march of urban sprawl gobbling up our green belts acre by acre.
The title track, opens with a languid mellow feel contrasting with Kings Of Light. But do not be deceived this is about not fearing change, let the wind and water turn the engine around. This is the greener answer to the despair of the previous tracks. A solution defined by Watertown. They have captured this urgency and how we have to change with a heavy rocky folksy sound. We have to change to protect our soil, insects the lands fertility nothing stays the same we are entering a new way forward and it is Watertown!
It is unsurprising that She Didn’t Get Into the Water was the first single it stands alone yet is an integral part of the message that is being spread out before us. Definitely she is a mystery and I love the lapping waves of water that closes out the song, reminding us this is a concept album and we can add what we like and here it is totally relevant. They only hear her singing – she a siren with special skills. Why didn’t she get in the water it sounds wonderful, but as they say she was a clever women a stranger in town. Is it polluted, poisoned by something only she could see? Water is picked up again with Swimming With The Devil the sound is getting heavy. We now have a body with no signs of violence we have another mystery! But can hear evil sirens and the devil swimming building on the darkness of men. The harp, rhythms and guitar build the tension on a track that shows the darker underbelly of life. As it closes out with a tolling of a bell…
The final track opens we are looking for some answers. Looking For Old England, don’t look back but forward to the stars. An upbeat song with a joyful edge and no utopian sunset that fixes everything. That is up to us every one of us as the album goes a full circle and leaves us with the clash of birdsong and airplanes.
The whole album is knitted together by some special potion that award winning Wayne Proctor has bought to the mixing of the album ensures there is a flow that takes you an a aural journey that lights up the speaker and your mood. This is a concept album where they have stayed firmly grounded in the message they want to convey through superb music and strong lyrics.
The previous album was conceptual and they have taken a jump further into the musical palette at their fingertips as they embellish folk with the sound that defines them as a band. This is the band having their say on the importance of preserving unchanging nature against the relentless march of city and industry. The idea of the album came to Adam while playing Green Fields area at Glastonbury, and Jon did much of his public speaking there. As Adam says “The festival is a piece of heaven on earth for a few days every year. We met so many people who are passionate about preserving and protecting what’s left of our natural environment, and we wanted to have our say too.” The outcome was Watertown.
TENdoodle paws out of TEN …
- King of the Green Fields
- Field & Factory
- An Easy Place
- Love Will Pass You By
- Going Into Town
- Kings of Light
- She Didn’t Get Into Water
- Swimming with the Devil
- Looking For Old England
The Mustangs are:
Adam Norsworthy – Guitar, Vocals Keyboards
Derek Kingaby – Blues Harp
Jon Bartley – Drums, Backing Vocals
Ben McKown – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Skyfire Records
Mixed by Wayne Proctor of House of Tone