Folk-rock, perhaps more than most musical amalgamations, is a difficult thing to get right. Half the time you have the “folk police,” usually a guy in a cable knit sweater with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Breton sea shanties, telling you that you are not authentic enough. The rest of the time you get fans of rock music looking down their noses at you because it isn’t “proper music.” (And that from a genre whose main innovation was show that it was possible to play guitar whilst simultaneously having one foot on the monitor!) But if you do get it right, if you do manage to find the sweet spot, then it not only ticks the required boxes but many more besides. Make Things Better is the sound of a band getting it right.
And for such music, even the term folk-rock is far to limiting as they throw so much more into the mix. Opening salvo Bleeding Hearts starts at a fairly expected kick-off point, a jaunty indie-folk tune shot through with pop sensibilities and addictive vibes but from there they seem to stretch out, get comfortable and hop generic boundaries and thwart expectations with the greatest of ease.
The Fourth Verse is a wonderful blend of wit and wisdom put to an ever building folk-rock trajectory, Sometimes The Moon has a very James Taylor feel to it…but with some well-executed swearing (he’d never have gone for that) and Fuck The Man is a fantastic slice of cosmic country meets frenetic folk, the sort of thing that the likes of Gram Parsons would have loved to have had in his repertoire.
As the band themselves ask, “How do you tell a local band from a national treasure?” Now that is a good question. Every band is local to somewhere, I guess, but not many make it to the upper echelons where you get such titular accolades as National Treasure laid at their feet. Town Meeting are on their way to such dizzy heights though and no mistake.