Reviewed by Marlo Spikin
Wagons’ lead man Henry Wagons freely admits that this album, their fifth studio album, has been birthed from turbulent times: “I’ve been shaken around and bruised, but in the best possible way.” And Wagons are, of course, a formidable collective and their rumblin’ music is very robust, and there is absolutely no doubt that us listeners will catch them as they tumble! So fearlessness resounds.
The late-album gem ‘Life’s Too Short’ croons and whistles this perfectly:
“Let it sink in
Have a thick skin
And if it don’t work out
Let those tears dry out
Because life is too too too short”
Exactly. And at 37 minutes, this album is amazingly not too short. Their shaking is vast and their rumblin’ and tumblin’ is full-bodied. Spearheaded by Henry’s muscular voice and fleshed out by backing vocals from half of the all-man line-up, this is outlaw country rock that will have you stomping along with them in an act of resilience. The sing-songy ‘Save Me’ will leave you lost in the forest with them, with much glee actually.
‘Follow The Leader’ is another distinct moment within the album. The chorus is assured in inspiring independence but is still not afraid to descend into a damning, aural pit of swirling guitars and guttural wailing. And it’s a really interesting direction to follow!
The opening tracks ‘Down Low’ and ‘I Blew It’ pulse with a defiance and an earthiness, and Si Francis’ cowbell percussion on the shoulder-shrugging ‘I Blew It’ is brilliant, as is Richard Blaze’ guitar solo. And the celebration of heroic Willie Nelson is fun and funny as they say:
“Why don’t we tell these guys something special about Willie Nelson?
He likes some salt and pepper with his evening meal”
Contrasting this is the much heart-felt ‘My Daydreams’. The acoustic guitar intro prepares you for the gentle swell, and carries you through. Beautiful. The Wagons’ characteristic honesty about the tumbles of life is a pleasure to listen to. The blazing ‘Moon Into The Sun’ heralds stunning guitar and an effective, yet modest, percussive lifeline. Their song-writing is at great heights here, their reach for the positive is inspiring. There is bravery, while sincerely pleading:
“I need you now like I’ve never needed anyone”
‘Rumble, Shake and Tumble’ has a dark peak right in its middle and it is the searing ‘Love Is Burning’. The refrain “sizzling, crackling, smoking, fizzling” rings true with voices so deep and fierce they sound like they are coming directly from their stomping, steaming, steel-capped boots!