By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Whiskey Folk Ramblers have injected traditional country, pop music's oldest and most distinctly American genre, with a shot of youthful energy and Old World instrumentation.
Their arrangement of "Die Easy" is a perfect summation of the band's approach. It's a traditional folk song, and they start it out traditionally enough, with a somber chorus of "Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh" over a slowly strummed acoustic guitar paired with banjo picking and a walking bass line that could have been recorded 75 years ago. Midway through, though, they start ratcheting up the tempo—just as the fiddle takes up a melody that would sound right at home in a Romanian gypsy camp. They also offer an interesting take of Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man," slowing it down to a dirge and accenting it with accordion and guest player Pat Adams' muted trumpet. The band also does a much straighter version of the traditional "Great-Grandson," a song that singer Tyler Rougeux learned from his grandfather.
Clearly, they know how to put a new twist on an old song. But that's not to say they're just a cover act. "Moanin' Rag" combines getaway-scene banjos with a shuffling beat and an insanely catchy moaning chorus. The title track is another excellent accordion-accented Eastern Europe meets Old West folk number. And bookending the CD: a pair of Ennio Morricone-inspired intro and outro instrumentals that set the mood perfectly.
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