Duncan Stagg and The Threadbare Band – wholly ‘at home’ Americana(March 16, 2015)
UK-grown Americana still slides across the entire spectrum from 'why did they bother?' to 'indistinguishable from genuine'. Now that doesn’t mean that Americana from anywhere other than across the pond isn’t genuine, it just means that ‘imitative plastic Americana’ that’s close but not close enough is still pretty easy to spot. Then you come up against the ‘real thing’, albeit with English influence ringing through it and it’s a case of ‘expectations met’. Duncan Stagg and The Threadbare Band ply their musical trade in Bristol, South West England rather than Bristol in Sullivan County, Tennessee or anywhere else in land of the free and the home of the brave. Speaking as a native of the aforementioned federal republic, I reckon these boys would be ‘at home’ there without too much effort.
Within the EP I hear a mix that includes slices of country influence, more than a few from rock, and one or two touches of folk, all gathered together to formulate a blend that unfailingly attracts. The opening track pours in with guitar washes and percussive waves across mournful vocals making ‘Tiger Cub’ an arresting track. It’s followed by the more meditative touches - ‘Joe’ a classic piece of sorrowful Americana storytelling, trumpet and guitar echoing within ‘Piece of Thread’, and the folk narrative of ‘The Captain’. While we’re working our way through the tracks, there’s the drive of ‘Sinner Blues’ and for a touch of wistful reflection and potent guitar-cuts ‘The Old Cinema’ makes its mark that’s not easy to ignore. The key to this album? Sharp guitar breaks, powerhouse percussion and vocals that pull every ounce out of the lyrics.
Now I know from countless conversations, some Americana aficionados believe that, 'the pure and the true' only comes from across the pond … that’s of course their view to which they're more than entitled, however I reckon they should listen to Duncan Stagg and The Threadbare Band. Who are: Duncan Stagg (vocals, guitar, banjo) Alex Hawker (vocals, bass, trumpet, keys) Jai Widdowson-Jones (drums, percussion). Website: www.duncanstagg.com
Reviewer: Tom Franks