Float Your Boat  –  The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

thumbnailGiven their cow-punk credentials, their brilliant collision of roots sounds from both sides of the Atlantic, their gypsy blues bar band busk swagger, it is fairly unexpected that the opening and titular song on their second e.p. Float Your Boat, is a tribute to Desmond Dekker. Actually that isn’t quite fair as Float Your Boat, as the name might suggest, is more about not worrying what is currently cool or musically in fashion but just listening to the music which does as the song title suggests, just like the things you like. A point that they make over a typically quirky blend of wonky folk, rock muscle and bluesy grooves.

They continue to explore some interesting concepts, narratives and inner thoughts to do with who we are and who we think we are. Putting on A Show is an exploration of identity, a soul-searching examination of the ever changing nature of who we are, a song exploring permanence and change, expression and perception. It’s a fairly reserved number considering the musical resources they have at their disposal, but that understanding of restraint means that the doleful violin and distant chime of piano are all the more powerful.

Similarly reflective is Violent and Sad, a melancholic and timeless paean to children growing up in hard environments and I Met A Wolf rounds things off brilliantly, back to their more countrified ways. But as always this isn’t just a pastiche of music made thousands of miles away, culturally unconnected and un-lived but instead drips with their trademark musical machinations. I hate the term British-Americana and this final track just hits the point home. This isn’t a group of people tipping their hat to music from another country, if they are it is only the slightest of nods. This is a sound that is much more than mere nostalgia or reverence, this is the sum of every band that lead to the formation of TMTMS, every late night spent listening to records, every conversation about music, every gig attended, every cool riff they have ever heard, every stage they have walked upon…it is the sum total of the people who made it.

Music isn’t about what we would like to be, it is who we are and this latest e.p. isn’t merely about the music that floats their boat, it is the wind in its sails, their direction of travel and their final destination all rolled into one.

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