Since 1996

   Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
     Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
About Us

Album Reviews
Movie Reviews
Concert Reviews
Book Reviews

Top 10
Contact Us

Artist: The Waybacks
Label: Compass
Length: 12 tracks / 55 mins 

Sometimes it’s very small details that can radically shift the way that you view an album. If the second or third tracks on this disc were shunted up to the front of the playing order, it would have made a much more positive impression on me. “Nice To Be Alone” has a great feel not unlike the Jeff Healey Band doing their version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”. The opener, by contrast, has very upfront vocals with an unadventurous, old-school backing. The latter’s style is suited to bars, while the better one suggests the arenas that they probably aim for. The whole release teeters between both sides of this narrow tipping point.
New recruit, fiddler and mandolin player, Warren Hood, says of what drew him to the band, “They were all very talented players. I couldn’t put them into a genre, but I guess that’s what I liked about it. I’d rather be in a band that plays a little of everything than a band that lives in one genre all night”. He is absolutely right about the talent, and it is a virtue to be eclectic, but not if it means watering down what you are best at or splintering the album’s cohesion.
The Waybacks are reported to be electric as a live act, yet for this release they spent more time than ever in the recording process. That for me is the problem – despite their abundant talent, when they brought their gear into the studio they forgot to unpack much of the live spark that sets them on fire.
Often they get through intact. “Savannah” is a late night, bluesy, moody acoustic track, and it is great. The title track includes some instrumental work that plainly extends into a fierce duet between fiddle and guitar in a live setting, but is only glimpsed here. “Conjugal Visit” enjoys similar hints, along with some nifty rhymes and a typical, healthy dose of wit. The bluesy “Lowdown” has the spark, the mood, and an intro that gets the hairs on the back of your neck ready for excitement from the start, while “Beyond the Northwest Passage” has a distinctly folky edge, if the chorus is a little over-egged at the end.
This disc will appeal to those who like their country bands to be clean and clinical, as it has a beautifully clear mix, if too much attention is paid to the vocals, and those whose priorities in music are stories (there are some superb lyrical touches). However – and this may just be a matter of taste – I was frustrated by the hints of explosive instrumental duels that never materialised. I’ll be waiting for the live album that catches the heart of the band as well as its brain.
Derek Walker


  Copyright © 1996 - 2008 The Phantom Tollbooth