Whiskey Folk Ramblers

Midnight Drifter (Ravenkaw)

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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