Having been wooed so easily by the single Tomorrow’s Gone, which kicks off this full-album release, the real test, of course, is this. Do the songs that follow this awesome opening salvo up to the same standard? There’s only one way to find out.
Following on from the dark and delicious opening, Broken Radio is heading down a more traditional route than some of their previous songs, particularly the previous album, Twerk & Twang, might have indicated. But, that said, they don’t lose their ability to inject some gothic lulls and lonesome highs into the proceedings. And their ability to do this is what makes the album so special.
In other, lesser hands, Let Me Go might have sounded merely like a Carter Family singalong. Here it sounds more like the Handsome Family, a band for which the musical label Southern Gothic was essentially lifted and reapplied from the literary world. Country fans will love it, but the creatures of the night will also find lots to love.
And these two opening sonic gambits, when taken together, sum up what is so great about Broken Radio. Their ability to take the country form and turn it into a soundtrack that borders on the literary territory of Poe or Machen or Lovecraft (Lovecraft in a stetson? Yes, please!). It makes them part of a small, unique band of music makers.
There are lighter moments, such as Sweetheart Honey Baby, which would get past the country gatekeepers on the doors of the Grand Ole Opry, as would the chiming and charming Tow Truck Driving Lady (about as country a title as you can get), but for the most part, things take far more exciting and applaudable routes. (Not that there is anything wrong with the song, it just seems red meat to the more obvious aficionados when there is much more interesting musical fare to be had here.)
Solitary Morning is as slow and resonant, twang-some and spacious as you could get without a song grounding to halt altogether, Smoke Signals is a jaunty, jigging, joyous piece, Big Old Small World a slow last waltz around the dance floor, tear-stained yet lovely, and the title track takes us out in epic, brass soaked style. A perfect full-stop to an excellent album!
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