Since discovering Wille & The Bandits a few short years back I have been following them with interest.
Virtually unclassifiable, multi-talented and with a social conscience that doesn’t get in the way of their music, they are something special.
They somehow manage to combine stunning musicality with soul and heart.
I think this is probably their most confident recording yet.
Wille’s vocals peal out strongly and his various guitars – including electric lap-steel and Weisseborg as well as dobro – are the epitome of a talent at work. Matt Brooks bass playing (six-string electric and 5 string double bass) is more akin to a lead instrument, deluging rhythms and melody lines all through the album while Andrew Naumann is one of the best drummers I’ve heard in years – capable of remarkable subtlety as well as driving and supporting the songs. The mighty Don Airey plays Hammond and other keys on a few of the tracks – a sign of the notice that Wille and co are now attracting.
At the start of the review I suggested that they were virtually unclassifiable; by rights they should be considered a Blues band but their music has so many other directions that they can hardly be limited to that pigeon-hole. Just listen to ‘Atoned’: a bass line that nags away at you, screaming guitars and furious drumming, soloing that goes in many directions and passionate and powerful vocals – on the edge of metal. But that leads into the awesome ‘Crossfire Memories’ – a ballad that starts with dobro, washes with strings and has the sound and feeling of terrible loneliness and loss. Wille’s guitar solo at the end is dark and utterly emotive.
Opening track ‘Miles Away’ starts with Wille playing the Wassenborg – almost a trademark sound for them – while Matt and Andrew lay down a funky backline and Don Airey’s Hammond gives real depth to the soundscape. It’s a great start to the album but far from the only highlight.
All of the tracks were written by the band and every track gives the listener something new, something a little unexpected and just about every track sounds like it will be a cracker live – they are touring in January all through to the end of March.
One of the best up and comers that Britain has to offer in 2017, special talents and a hell of an album.