It’s staggering that Flatland Kings only formed just under a year ago. In a scant eleven months they’ve managed to write and record the sort of high-quality material that some bands take a lifetime to produce and, if that’s just the start, the world really is theirs for the taking.
Following the release of their NHS charity single ‘What Really Matters’ recently, this brand new four track EP has been unleashed and it’s one of the best things you’ll hear for a very, very long time.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQCLnW1E9d0&w=560&h=315]
The joyous Country of ‘When We Were Young’ launches you straight into the long, languid hazy days of Summer, bringing back a flood of memories of great times with friends.
A rolling rocker, this hits the ground running and could well become the anthem of the next few months as it oozes feelgood bonhomie and a life filled with good things. The trio of Liam Madison, Sam Ellis and Stef Judd have absolutely nailed the sound, Madison’s vocals pitch perfect and full of nuance while Ellis and Judd provide the faultless musical muscle.
If this doesn’t make you tap your feet and grin like a Alice’s Cheshire cat you had better check your pulse. Every note is exactly where it should be, the songwriting sublime and the guitar solo stings like a scorpion.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdMFx0tUUN0&w=560&h=315]
‘In All It’s Glory’ slows the pace slightly but is an anthemic stroll through territory that is part modern country music and part Bryan Adams blue collar rock. Again, nothing is wasted, the structure tight and the delivery spot on.
There’s more of a folky tinge to ‘Skeletons’ as Americana meets Mumford & Sons, the band showcasing their talents in a display that impresses with a grip on both the bigger themes of the music and the subtleties in the emotions.
There’s a chiming quality Judd brings to his guitar on this track that brings The Edge to mind and, like U2, you can imagine Flatland Kings filling arenas as the band grow and grow.
The EP closes with ‘Saving Grace’, a ballad as big as the plains of Wyoming and the huge cloudless skies over them. The gentle piano caresses as the vocals come in, guitar and drums joining smoothly as the song makes its way ever upwards, growing to touch the very heavens above.
Passion blends with some tasty Mark Knopfler style licks, female backing vocals add yet another layer and the piano motif comes in quietly again as the song dips and then rises once more, finishing on a flourish that Skynyrd would be proud of.
Blazing with an astonishing brilliance, Flatland Kings could well be superstars by this time next year.
Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM