July 23, 2024

The Goat Roper Rodeo Band – “Tall Grass” – a record full of love for American roots


Should this sound so American when it comes from Wales? Americana is a state of mind….

Playing on a couple of guitars, an upright bass and the odd additional frill, with a thin back country voice in front, this sounds like the real deal. From the mournfully melancholic Bright Lights And Deadbeats to the rocking High Heel Blues to the plaintive Don’t Mind The Rain. There is a simple complexity here – lots of detail going on but just a trio working very closely. It’s like the best of other acoustic folk acts that have hot-housed on practice.

Main St mixes Beatlesesque opening harmonies with something The Band could have done. I’m put in mind of other melodic Americana UK acts; Grand Drive and Danny George Wilson’s solo career. The tunes are strong, simple and laced with sweet sadness, even in the joy. There’s an excitement, too, to songs like Anyway Anyhow, that catches the simplicity of the roots of rock and roll.

The harmonies are great and a line is cast back to the Everly Brothers or Gram Parsons to hook the best of that spirit. Having come up on covering The Everlys, Beatles and other fifties / sixties bands, a lot of the melodic gift has infused. What intrigues me about this band is how they do what they do without drums – the only other band I’ve seen do that is bluegrass jam band, The Yonder Mountain String Band. It works well, with one of the guitars providing the turning point backbeat and it creates a lightness of movement for the band.

Formed of two brothers (Jim and Tom Davies), one on guitar and one on double bass, both on the uptempo vocals, plus Sam Roberts on guitar and soulful vocals, this band are on their fifth year and third album and have clearly put in the hours on working themselves into a perfectly integrated unit. Sample The Pulse for the beautiful harmonies and sweet sadness at the heart of this band.

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