Joe has’nt actually been mentioned previously in these these pages despite my conviction that I have wrote about them before. Still a brief summary of the journey Joe and the Hayride took to this album would be this: The band formed way back in 2003. Made up of members Eddie Walsh (Electric Guitar/Vocals), Brian Marshall (Bass/Vocals), Darren McDonald (Drums), Dave Clancy (Steel Guitar) and the aforementioned Joe Fury (Vocals/Acoustic Guitar), the group are based around the mid-west. Their sound is a mix of western swing, rockabilly, and roots or to paraphrase themselves:‘Roots-a-Billy’. How Joe and fellow original member Eddie Walsh met is quite a story. Joe was moving to Ireland to live and on the look out for a guitarist who could play his style of music. He happened upon Eddie through a nine year old ad. You should read the full story here. Needless to say, it does feel a little bit like destiny in how they came together.
The band released their first albumin 2010. “Hey, Hey, Hey” featured a number of covers and set the tone of what was to come from these fine bunch of lads. Having maintained a strong gigging presence throughout the country, the band decided to record their first album of original material last year. 13 hours (so called because that’s how long it took to get the record down) is the result.
Recorded in that hotbed of roots and americana; Thomastown Co. Kilkenny, (there are seriously a lot of americana musicians from down that direction) in Leo Pearsons studio, the band used a FundIt campaign to help complete the process of mastering, distribution and other costs. Released in February this year, 13 hours is quite a collection of roots/country tunes.
The album was recorded very quickly with the band having a preference for the live session. It does seem impressive that the vocals were done in one take and the melody’s recorded together. I have to agree with Joe that I’m not a fan of the over-produced songs. And with a genre like this, the live recording and simple production perfectly suits. Opening with the lively “No Way of Knowing”, the first thirty seconds set the tone of what to expect from the next eleven tracks. The melody and sharp lead guitar definitely suck you in to the roots-a-billy extravaganza.
My favourite song on the record by far is “Oh Judge”. Sounding like one of those traditional parables re-interpreted, I was surprised to find it is a original song. The rise and fall of the melody along with Joe’s strong vocals, that carry the words perfectly leave you humming the track long after it has ended.
To contrast, well a little of a contrast, “Alone to Pine” is one of those waltzy, lonely drinking in the bar dirges. It feels like a Hank Williams song; sadness veiled in a beautiful melody. Despite it tempo though, for some reason the song has an air of optimism about it. The words “the choice is mine, to rise and face the dawn” suggest that he is in charge of his own destiny, despite how it might look. It could have come straight out of a recording studio in 1950’s Nashville.
The album moves between the lively rockabilly sound and some more sedate numbers. The bluesy “All I can do is cry” and the angry sounding “I’m branded” give some edge to a genre that is often constrained by its own defining sound.
The quite beautiful “Down in the Willow Garden” closes the album. A traditional song, the track just features Joe and the guitar. Despite the spareness of the arrangement, it is quite an affective arrangement and offers a impacting end to the record.
Rockabilly is a genre that you either really have to like or accept the style is never going to change all that much. 13 Hours is a fine contribution to the genre and with the slower songs, I think the band stretch themselves to become a rootsabilly band. A group to keep your eye on.