Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Unwieldies - Let's Grow Old and Strange Together

Anyone who has ever read this blog knows that I am a huge fan of local band the Psyatics as well as the
band that Rob (bass/vocals) and Jimmy (drums) had beforehand, the Yeller Bellies. So, it stands to reason that I would be drawn to this project featuring Rob (here on stand-up bass and vocals) and his talented wife, Danielle (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), along with fellow Psyatic, Jack Bell (violin and electric guitar). This is far mellower than the other, afore-mentioned projects, but the songwriting is still particularly strong and Danielle's voice is sweet, powerful and lovely.

Starting with "Star Struck", Jack's violin adds a beautiful flavor to this singer/songwriter tale of unrequited love, but Danielle's voice is the real star here. This continues in "Strange New Weakness" and then Rob opens an Avett Brothers cover, "Shame". I was not familiar with this new bluegrass-ish combo until I looked this up on You Tube, but the Unwieldies do a pretty straight-ahead take. I must say that I prefer the Un's version, simply because Rob & Danielle's harmonies actually beat the original (in my opinion). Danielle explores her vocals in "You Never Bet The Devil", with some scat-singing around the melody, while Rob provides mandolin (an instrument he uses in the Yeller Bellies) and Jack provides some gypsy-ish violin.  

I'll admit that I was also unfamiliar with "Veronica", a tune co-written by Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney, about a woman looking back on her life. This is nicely changed up from the original, but keeping the terrific melody. "Complaints Fall on Deaf Ears" sounds a lot like it would have been a Yeller Bellies tune, with Rob taking the lead vocals and Jack providing rockabilly-ish electric guitar. Danielle is back for "Sing" and Rob returns with "Don't Call it Love", with more nice mandolin work.

In an unusual turn, there is a quiet, acoustic version of Ozzy's "Crazy Train", which is almost unrecognizable (until you get to the chorus) without the heavy guitars and with someone who can really sing (sorry, Ozzy!). Yes, kinda gimmicky, but it does seem to be getting them some attention. I really love the ending track, an updated take on the Yeller Bellies' "Haunted", with Rob & Danielle trading vocals and harmonizing, Jack adding atmospheric violin and electric guitar and Rob throwing in some mandolin for good measure. Great song and a nice finish to the record.

A beautiful record made by some of Vegas' best talents for your quieter, acoustic moods - you can't be ravin' all the time, can you?