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Oh, boy isn’t this guy good, and country to the bone to boot. Banister is the new kid on the block though totally removed from Nashville’s latest blue-eyed act. I now wait the call from some of past country greats now up there in hillbilly heaven saying, ‘take good care of the boy and because of him we shall all sleep well tonight’.
Banister is a throw back to the George Strait’s early days, plus there are hints of Clint Black, Keith Whitley and on going farther back in time, Lefty Frizzell could just as easily be his great uncle. His writing is first-class. Many of the songs heard here could just as easily have come from the pen of Dean Dillon, fans of Strait will no doubt recall him as being the chief provider of many of his hits and countless album tracks. His pure, vocal style not only tells the story with great clarity but such is the timbre of his voice it ensures the listener is transported in their mind to the Texas honky tonks and crowded dance floors his songs speak of. As in the 1980s (Strait-like) song ‘Heartbroken Honkytonk Queen’ that speaks of the loss of her rambling man, and how she is resigned in all relationships ending like it. I love the relaxed feel of his voice as he ease through the song. The age old saying ‘as comfortable as old shoe’ also comes to mind on his brother, Colt’s song ‘Turn Back Time’ and, with him moving in song from California to ‘She’s Somewhere In Texas Tonight’ as he speaks of how it was his destination but is now removed and lonely (Merle Haggard could have written this one) as his plans fall apart.
Before I venture any further, a word of mention must go to the musicians who likewise play their part. Johnny Mulhair (electric, acoustic, gut-string guitars, congas), Jill Mulhair (harmony vocals), Paul Goad (piano, electric piano, bass guitar), David Strong (drums), Chek Rippee (fiddle), Tommy Detamore (steel guitar, Dobro) and, his brother Colt Banister (harmony vocals) who wrote the title-track and collaborated with Will on the closing cut ‘Fiddle Man’. A rousing piece —as is a song (‘Mr Fiddle Man’) from country, western swing cowboy act Red Steagall only this one speaks of a singer losing his trusty musician and not the virtues of one striking up a tune.
Two of Will’s songs have a special personal meaning, as both ‘This Seems More Like Living’ (listen out for some tasty Dobro work) and ‘Good Times Will Stay’ speak of his love for his wife, young daughter the good things God has bestowed on him. Others of note… and there isn’t a weak one on the record include, sad country song ‘I Wonder Who’s In Denver’ and slow swing ballad ‘I Want You To Stay’.
I believe Banister is the best, alongside Bob Manning of those playing this kind of music and not signed to a major label. Other than major label act Jamey Johnson there isn’t a lot of competition coming through performing country music at this level. Will Banister is the business all right, and if there is any justice in the world he is set for a long, successful run up in country music’s higher reaches.
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