Shimmering like a summer afternoon after the wine has been opened, The Redlands Palomino Company are back with their third album: nine new songs and one cover (of an old Dillards song) deliver gloriously melodious country rock with that minor-key, bittersweet quality that tends to make for some of the most memorable music. I confess I'd only heard one or two songs of theirs before so I wasn't properly aware of the qualities that make them so well-regarded, and it took a couple of listens before this new album really hit home. The songs unfold themselves to you slowly, with an unshow-y elegance to their structure, but, once you get the hang of them, they're proper ear worms, they really are.
With six band members on stage they have the capacity to develop extensive interplay between the instruments, which makes for a richly satisfying sound. This is most evident on the cover of The Dillards' One a.m. and the song that precedes it, The Boat. As the band take off and trade lines between each other you can lose yourself in the music and, wisely, you are left wanting more as the song fades easily thirty seconds too soon. I can hear in these songs that they would come over on stage rather more powerfully than they do on record, where their mellow, gentle side is given more of the spotlight. There's quite a complex character to their music with two thirds of the original material coming from the pen of lead singer Hannah Elton-Wall. She writes songs that seem a natural fit for the solo singer-songwriter circuit - intimate songs about the emotional life and relationships - and there's an appropriate delicacy to her voice; not fragile, but much more like Sandy Denny than Bonny Tyler. Somehow she holds her own and keeps true to this voice even when the band are driving along as strongly as they do on Call Me Up, the opening track. In fact, one of the great pleasures of this band is to hear the contrast in the interplay between a band that sounds American and a lead singer who sounds so English.
The band are great, flowing around each other and riding the steady driving rhythms like it was the most natural thing in the world. The chief "country" flavour comes from David Rothon's pedal steel, the sound from which floats around and above the rest of the band; with them, but somehow a free spirit, too. It's great that they chose to cover that Dillards' song; it demonstrates clearly where their heart lies and gives credit to a band of country rock pioneers who are often overlooked in the obsession with Gram Parsons, The Flying Burritos, et al.
Anyway, this is a thoroughly good album, destined to insinuate itself onto my favourites shelf, I think. However, I wish the publicists would spare us the silly stuff about "the UK's finest". They're very good, and very distinctive, but then so are Southpaw, The Lush Rollers and, most recently, The Wynntown Marshalls (all of whom happen to be Scottish).
Add a Comment