Review by Paul Sabin for MPM
Cornwall’s finest return with their fifth studio album which, like so many other musicians has been born from and inspired by months of lockdown and lack of live work.
This release is a bit special however, as Wille Edwards got to realise a dream – to record at the legendary Sawmills Studios on the banks of the River Fowey.
This is a place only accessible at high tide and has seen Robert Plant, Oasis, Muse and Supergrass record there. So not only were they following in great footsteps, but they may well be the last band to record there and all funded by their faithful fans!
`First track, `Caught In The Middle’, pulls out all the stops from the first note. Managing to morph from hip-hop to fold, and then to Rock, Edwards superb slide work blends with a dirty, fuzz filled riff in this politically focused opus.
`I’m Alive’ sees Edwards warm, gravely vocal groove along to a semi psychedelic backbeat there bears a passing resemblance to some of Zeppelin’s eastern influenced tracks replete with Plant-esque wails in the mid song instrumental break.
The dark soundscape of `Without You’ of positively epic. Gentle acoustic parts give way to huge crashing chords and Gilmour style phrasings as we experience the loss of a loved one on this intense journey.
Edwards’s vocal is pushed to its very limits here. The mood lightens as the upbeat groove of `Good Stuff’ kicks in. Classic bottleneck slide work and a sing along chorus guarantees success on this addictive foot tapper.
`In This Together’ has a terrific guitar hook and a megaphone toned vocal that gives a British pop-rock feel. Think Transvision Vamp et al. `Will We Ever’ takes on a southern rock vibe as lap-steel and dobro lay the foundations of the track as harmonised choruses dance over the droning Hammond and spangly riffs.
The title track is a softer affair which explores those first quiet days of lockdown. Brush percussion and light airy guitar work with Matthew Gallagher’s piano and Hammond parts. Edwards’s vocal is upfront in the mix but is restrained and passionate here.
The band get their funk on in `Move Too Fast’ as Wah fuelled guitars get soulful. There is an air of freedom on this track, its sounds like the band are so tight here working as one harmonious unit. The funky mode carries on with the semi scat `Broken Words’.
`Daylight’ brings back the Zeppelin feel on this kick ass track. Bonham drum beats, huge riffs and one of the meatiest vocals on the album resides here. For me this is the highlight an already wonderous album.
The tempo carries over to `Refuge’ with its string sections, filthy riffs and heavily delayed lead break. `Solid Ground’ closes the album. A beautiful, slow blues number with sweet, bell tone licks and an emotional vocal delivery.
Edwards and the band have achieved miracles here. Some tracks are true to their roots which will please diehard fans, others go off-piste and explore uncharted genres and finally other tracks bring an air of familiarity to them, evoking memories of long-gone bands but at the same time at that distinctive Wille & The Bandits vibe.
Every track here is pure class. Dare I say it, their best yet and one which will stand the test of time.
Well done boys!
Official website: https://www.willeandthebandits.com