Every once and while, while scavenging Bandcamp.com or Noisetrade.com, I come across something so wonderful and so new that it reminds me why music is such a valuable thing and so important to us as a people. Last year’s “The Dust Covered Man” by our friends Elliot Road was one of those albums. It’s a transformative set of songs, the kind of music that makes you second guess the things you’ve listened to in the past. Well, I’m really excited to get to tell you about The Gospel Whiskey Runners, a California band that’s making unique folk rock that is equal parts alternative and folk.
As is my custom, the only, single complaint that I have is that this album is only 9 songs. But there’s so much here to like and talk about that 9 songs is sufficient, if not ideal. The quintet seems like the kind of band that is making music honestly, for the sake of making music. The last facebook post from the band was from Colette Boley, the group’s female vocalist, and it said simply, “I am so antsy to do a show!!!” It’s that kind of attitude and genuineness that makes bands like this worth following and being a fan of.
“Hold On” starts off with the song “I Am a Ghost”, which begins with the lyric “17 and all your dreams are knocking on your front door,/ 25 you realize that nothing is the same as before.” It’s a brilliant start to and album that also features the line “my hope is set on things unseen.” It’s great song writing with the music to match. “Muddy Waters” starts and sounds mostly like an old Alice in Chains song, which is a very very good thing.
One of the interesting things is how many bands that the album reminds me of. “Brothers” starts with a lyric that sound like and is in the same spirit of “Tangled Up in Blue” by Bob Dylan. It’s a slower song that is more personal and more melodic. Singing “I’ve already got my ticket for this train, I’m gonna ride it down to glory,” the band’s quintessential folk song on the album is “The Ticket.”
The album’s last two songs, “The Wound” and “Hold On”, are perhaps the two best. Both are slower and focused on the interplay between the music and the lyrics. Both contain a unique instrument that really takes the song from good to outstanding. “The Wound” is a song about lost love, one that laments the loss and reflects what was left behind by singing, “The water’s still rushing, and the blood is still gushing from the wound you left inside.” It’s an emotional song made more emotional by the addition of an Irish(?) or Native American(?) flute. I realize those are very different, but it’s definitely a wooden instrument and in that vein.
The title track is perhaps my favorite song this year, combining slowly layered harmonies, an incredible accordion, and a fully realized, close of the concert type atmosphere. It’s a song full of hope, something that we could use more of, and it’s done in a way that also reflects the negativity necessary to need that hope. The chorus is very simple and profound. “Hold on, Hold on, Hold on, Love will come.”
The Gospel Whiskey Runners have created an incredible album and one that deserves the attention of everyone. In even better news, you can get this album for FREE right here, right now.