England - Full Moon 128 - 03/04/07
The Redlands Palomino Company
Take Me Home
Laughing Outlaw Records
My prejudices tell me there's something not right about a British country-rock band. But, of course, your prejudices must be put to shame. What I like or don't like about Redlands... have nothing to do with their location. I like the record for its songs and the voice of Hannah Elton-Wall but don't like it for its all-over sound and the voice of her husband Alex.
There's a fine line between when country-rock (Americana if you like) sound every bit as bad as Mötorhead and when it sounds as slick as Shania Twain. I'm sad to say that Redlands on this record is living on that edge.
The most obvious reference is Whiskeytown, both when it comes to the songs and the vocal work. But, where Whiskeytown managed to create their scruffy but tight sound, Redlands... go either scruffy or too tight. I absolutely fall for the story in "Coastline" but fail to get the vocals and their reaching for gusto. Songs like "Please Come Running" carries both a beautiful melody and the essential pedal-steel that both lifts it and carries it further on, but it's too tight for its own good. It misses the swing.
Ryan Adams once sang "I started this damn country band, 'cause punk rock was too hard to play" - and it might be something for Redlands... to pick up. Loosen up, it should be so hard.
Copyright © 2007 Anders Svendsen