The Wynntown Marshals – After All These Years (2017)

Posted by on October 1, 2017as

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As the title “After All These Years” might suggest, this is a retrospective set marking Edinburgh’s ringing guitars Americana outfit’s ten years together, during which time The Wynntown Marshals have released three albums and assorted EPs as well as having gone through some line-up changes. They’re represented in this 16 track collection that, along with rarities and fan favourites, also includes three previously unreleased new numbers pointing to the road ahead.

It opens with the country rock Low Country Comedown with its thoughts of home and the life of a band on the road from their 2013 The Long Haul album, singer Keith Benzie dust-hoarse vocals recalling Miracle Legion’s Mark Mulcahy. That album also offers up the Byrdsian family-themed Canada, the quieter, more reflective Curtain Call with its tale of a magic trick gone wrong and the Neil Young influenced Tide.

Debut album Westerner yields three numbers, the gently chugging pedal steel coloured Ballad of Jayne, the spare, slow-paced seven-minute Thunder In The Valley and the chirpier jangle of Snowflake with its Sweetheart of the Rodeo flavours.

Their most recent, critically acclaimed album was 2015’s The End of the Golden Age from which four tracks feature: Being Lazy, a brass warmed number from now departed bassist Murdoch Macleod, with its local landmark references and a dash of glockenspiel. The Gram Parsons influenced Red Clay Hill, with Hannah Elton-Wall from the Redlands Palomino Company on harmonies. The nautical-themed piano whale hunting ballad Moby Doll, and, of course, the jangling title track itself.

Although titled after the opening track of their self-titled 2007 EP debut, the number itself doesn’t figure, though you do get The Burning Blue, a song themed around WWII RAF pilots. Also from that EP is 11:15, a song about the storm and floods of 1829 that devastated farms from Inverness to Montrose that opens with rumbling drums before breaking out into the trademark chiming guitars.

Which leaves the new numbers, the first up being Your Time, guitar and organ underpinning a wistful song about an unequal relationship, followed, some tracks later, by the unrequited love of the yearning Odessa with its organ backing and a fine guitar solo. The final new track closes the album and is, in fact, a recording of Different Drug from the debut EP, the new line-up bringing a fuller, more relaxed sound with the addition of keyboards and more fluid guitar.

They don’t get the wider commercial acclaim they deserve but, as the sticker on the front of the sleeve says, they truly are “Europe’s best Americana band.” So, here’s to the next decade.

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