Album review: Rackhouse Pilfer – Love and Havoc

Having settled down to a new job and a new location, I have been given the opportunity on my trips to and from work to get to listen to a few albums I have got in the post recently. Top of the pile was the new release from Sligo based Rackhouse Pilfer.

‘Love and Havoc’ is the second album release from the band in only the space of twelve months indicating this band are currently not short of creative juices. The band have been featured on the blog before where I highlighted some of the tracks from the first album ‘Back to the country’.
Probably one of the most traditional acts to feature on Eirecana, Rackhouse Pilfer nevertheless still bring some variations to the roots and bluegrass genre that they inhabit. The album was recorded with the help of a FundIt campaign in Nashville with producer Brad Jones. The album also features the talents of long established guitar player Harold Bradley.
Coincidentally while recording the album in Nashville, the band got to play on the Grand Ole’ Opry too.

The album opens with the lively ‘Dust on the Road’. As I said the band are a traditional affair in many ways. Composed of instruments like the acoustic guitar, harmonica, fiddle, dobro, banjo, mandolin and double bass with all band members contributing vocals, the songs on the album create a real homely feel. The polished current single ‘Bright Lights’ epitomises the atmosphere that is created on the record. A light, poppy style, it’s easy to forget that the lyrics are of a more forlorn tone than the foot-tapin’ infectious form of the melody.

The songs on the album never stray too far from the roots and bluegrass genre with the pace the one aspect that distinguishes some of the tracks. The gentle introduction to ‘Fallen Leaves’ immediately captures your attention. Indeed the sound of Rackhouse Pilfer shines brightest in the slower tracks. Along with ‘Fallen Leaves’, both ‘Two Oceans’ and ‘A Sailing Song’ stand out. Perhaps it is the changing of pace though maybe it is also the fact that whereas the up-tempo tracks features six-part harmonies, the fact that a single voice carries most of the slower tracks adds real character to those compositions.

The influence of Irish music does come out in this record too. It is not just a copy and past bluegrass adaption. ‘Me and a Polar Bear’ and the closing ‘I’ll find a way’ have a hard to place hibernian style to them, almost if the Saw Doctors abandoned the electric guitar for the dobro.

For me, not being a massive fan of bluegrass, it would be hard keep my attention through twelve tracks of 5-string banjo licks. However Rackhouse Pilfer have developed a large portion of versatility in their style. This record easily keeps you occupied without you even realising that 50-odd minutes have passed.

It is a pity that more of the tracks are not available to stream but you can sample and buy the album through iTunes or buy physical copies directly through the band’s website. Catch up on the bands activities though their Facebook page.

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