It seems to me that the calendrical bit of The August List’s name is quite poignant, as they seem to mine a similar musical seam as The Decemberists, but come dressed in lighter outer garments, as reflects their chosen season. Not that I’m saying that they are just Decemberist-lite (deliberate US spelling for added effect) it is just that where the former are swathed in the trappings of folk-rock and hyper-literate lyrics, The August List are more bucolic, more backwoodsy and more emotively driven.
As a two-piece with a minimalistic live sound, it is to their credit that they show a similar restraint in the studio. But adding only small instrumental detail here and there the charm of their striped back approach is retained and once again we discover that the cliché of less is more is proven to be true. I guess that is the job of clichés.
Across eleven songs provide the soundtrack to an imaginary road trip taking in the majesty of the Appalachian highlands, through the bayous and backwaters of the Deep South to sweep westwards along lone tumbleweed strewn roads into the setting sun of a time long lost. This is American roots music at its finest combining old-time folk music with jug band beats, country music stripped of all the rhinestones, rocking chair Cajun peppered with gospel and an occasional rock and roll stance. And if this album and indeed the band itself act as a musical time capsule, a window into the folk history of America, then you have to be left wondering how it came to be the product of rural Oxfordshire.