Album Review Matt Lawrence Oz Country Chronicles

Bryen Willems – No Band Here Till Friday (2012) 02/09/2012

Track List:

1. Two For One Cocktails
2. Ace In The Hole
3. Together Again
4. She Let Herself Go
5. Let’s Be In Love
6. Nowhere Road
7. Hello Beer
8. Lonesome Highway Blues
9. Drinkin And Drivin
10. You Win Again
11. Precious Lord, Take My Hand
12. Honky Tonk Song

Whoever said country isn’t country anymore forgot to tell Bryen Willems – he’s still proudly sticking to old school rules.
On this, his second release, the Louisiana expat turned Sydneysider, has produced a solid slab of new honky tonk standards.
The album oozes traditional country sensibilities, from the lyrical themes to the instrumentation.
There’s more than a touch of irony here. With such domination of pop and rock influences on much of today’s contemporary country releases, No Band Here Till Friday manages to sound surprisingly fresh and not for a second nostalgic, despite the vintage of the style.
Could it be that local releases of this ilk have become such a rarity?
Well whatever the case, when played right – as it is here – the appeal of this ‘old school’ country music is undeniable. It boasts an authentic charm rarely found on many of the glossy, over-produced, pop-heavy slabs of today.
Two For One Cocktails, which contains the line after which the album is titled, serves as a perfect opener, setting the scene for the ensuing 11 tracks.
There is no denying the strong toe-tapping qualities of tracks like Ace In The Hole, She Let Herself Go or Let’s Be In Love, and likewise the irresistible slow-dance inspiring bliss of the Buck Owens-penned Together Again, on which Willems duets with Mary-Anne Burton.
Throughout the release, Willems’ accent on the lead vocal adds to the authenticity of the recording, which is essentially music made famous in his country of birth.
The playing on the album is sensational, which is of little surprise considering the calibre of the personnel – Allan Tomkins, Tomi Graso and Bob Howe to name a few of the musicians.
Also of special note are appearances by The Harmonators, Rob Wilson, Allan Caswell and a guest guitar solo by Redd Volkaert on album closer Honky Tonk Song.
This is definitely a must have album for those who like their country music the way it used to be.

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