Album of the week : Guts, Lungs & Bones - Groanbox

Groanbox, for those unfamiliar with the name, describe themselves as US/Canadian Roots Trio but that conceals a huge wealth of styles and talents.

They sit somewhere between Scottish folk, Canadian Roots and good ol’ Americana and chuck in great slugs of Blues, Bayou voodoo and good times.

Groanbox specialise in recording their music a) quickly and b) in strange locations and ‘Guts, Lungs & Bones’ is no exception. It was recorded in a cottage perched at the bottom of a green, sheep ridden hill in the middle of the Scottish Borders over a period of six days in August 2011 and what’s more it was recorded ‘live’, with their manager Oscar Cainer at the helm. The album features ten original compositions and one traditional number, ‘Death Don’t Have No Mercy’. The result is arguably far richer than some self indulgent supergroup could come up with if they were given barrow loads of money, a couple of years and 100 tons of equipment!

The influence of old New Orleans studio and street is as hot as a cup of coffee from Cafe du Monde in tunes like ‘Po’ Boy’, ‘Erol the Turk’, and ‘Outside the Candlelight Lounge’. The echoes of Highway 61 and moonlit roads in Mississippi and Louisiana are still there too, with the Cooder-esque ‘Bunco Artist and ‘Running Down The Tiger’

This album isn’t smooth. It has the slightly sharp edge of a really good single malt but also its depth. Listening to a track like ‘Tamazight’ with the accordion of Michael Ward-Bergeman sawing against Paul Clifford’s percussion and Cory Seznec’s banjo you can hear the three playing off each other and developing the themes but hearing all the time that ‘edge’ that suggests it could all collapse into a mess at any moment (it doesn’t though). You can get flavours of Spanish, Moroccan, Scottish and Arcadian all in the one track. In ‘Dalmation Blessed’ the accordion is used almost as percussion instrument holding the beat under seriously odd lyrics about dogs and on ‘Hell Roaring Creek’ they raise the ghosts of gold prospectors in a working Blues style that morphs into a country stomp

Their version of the classic ‘Death Don’t Have No Mercy’ is amazing, taking a Blues classic and making it entirely their own with a penny whistle in place of the usual guitar solo

The music is all about heart and the intense togetherness of three musicians who know each others’ abilities and play for the pleasure of the creative process, but there is no shortage of either talent or humility as each of them gets an opportunity to shine. The result is superb

Buy it here



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December 02, 2011

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