Saturday, September 26, 2015

New Music 2015 - Part 70 - Francis Pugh and The Whisky Singers - A Place Back West EP

The Oxford music scene is vibrant and nowhere more so than in the inter-related genres of folk, roots, bluegrass, and thus also the behemoth that is Americana. It is not so long since I mentioned Great Western Tears in that regard. This is another and the two are commonly found as part of the pop-up live performances known as Oxford Roots Rambles.
Francis Pugh and The Whiskey Singers is a six-piece and the latest Roots Ramblin' event that took place yesterday evening also served to launch their EP 'A Place Back West'.

In the original tradition of EPs it has just three tracks - two originals and a cover in this case. These are they:

  • A Place Back West
  • I Saw The Light (Hank Williams)
  • You Can't Fix A Heart That's Been Broken
For all the downbeat lyricism of the first and last tracks the theme and the joyous music, including the combination of banjo and brass playing together, results in an effect that is entirely one of positivity in quest for the fabled 'sunlit uplands'. The other vital component is not only do these songs and the stories fully hold their places they are actually enhanced by the choice of the song that separates them.
The inclusion of Hank Williams 1947-composed 'I Saw The Light' is interesting not only for its range of interpretation and the virtuosity of the playing displayed within it by the band, but also for its history.

It became, mostly through covers rather than Williams' own performance, a gospel-country standard and probably his best-recognised creation. In actual fact it was written about a comment that his mother made while driving the band back from a gig. 'The Light' in question was that emanating from Dannelly Field airport and it signalled that they were approaching their home town of Montgomery, AL.
God moves in mysterious ways.

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