Where the Crow Don't Fly
The latest release from Portland, Oregon-residents Water Tower Bucket Boys, is a five-song EP that showcases many of the traits for which they’ve become notable; tight harmonies, pop-friendly bluegrass melodies and an old-time sensibility. After five years on the road and four albums, this record sees the band ploughing a slightly darker, more introspective furrow.
The first track, “Meet Me Where the Crow Don’t fly”, is both timeless and instantly familiar. Violin-driven it is essentially a hypnotic hymn to hard times and serves as an engaging opener that reels the listener in. It’s followed by “Walkin’ the Road” - a far more up-tempo – some might say down-right-danceable – number that gives more of an insight into the broad appeal the band has. Past glories include appearances on the BBC and RTE, while their list of former collaborators is mightily impressive. The lyrical and instrumental dexterity evidenced on this banjo- and harmonica-driven hoedown goes some way to accounting for the number of plaudits they have won.
The EP has a delightful ebb and flow to it. The Celtic-infused “Pilgrim’s Song” sounds like a cross between a number one might find on The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty and something played by The Pogues in their heyday. It is delivered in a truly heartfelt fashion but retains the edge of darkness that underpins much of proceedings here.
Excellent production and instrumentation exist throughout – perhaps best evidenced on up-tempo “Easy Way Out” – the catchiest number on the EP – and the closer – a more introspective number with echoes of Elliot Smith contained therein. All-in-all this is a very listenable selection of material; the only criticism is that, at only five songs, the listener is left wanting more.