Often to us Brits, America, especially the one captured in film, book and song, seems like an exotic place compared with our own landscapes, both metaphorical and real. Theirs is a land of big skies, big vistas and big ideas, of endless roads and distant mountains. But the smaller and more familiar confines we find ourselves in need to be championed too and it takes a band such as The Lucky Strikes to find the beauty in such broken landscapes and old world shadows.
If there is such a thing as the Thames Delta scene then The Lucky Strikes sit at the forefront of it. Scenes and genres are fluid, debatable and largely journalistic constructs but in does it seem to me that there is a sound blowing in from that open estuary along the northern shore of the capitals river and into the hinterland. A sound made by a group of musicians acknowledging the path walked by the pre-punk, pub-rock stalwarts of the region whilst liberally plundering classic American roots acts, hope-spun folk, celtic traditions, power-pop and pub sing-alongs.
Someone once told me that every musician worth their salt either wanted to be Neil Young or Van Morrison, controversial….but both of them seem to have woven their magic into the essence of this record, sometimes there is little you can do to stop it happening, their legacy lies in the corner of every studio, record collection and venue across the western world.
And if Ballad of The Silver Chain is Neil Young spinning estuary ballads, the scope and majesty of War Drums evokes the big music and otherworldly shimmer of Mike Scott painting his vivid musical pictures.
One of the most interesting moments of the album comes in the very unexpected Carry Me Lord, which sounds like an East Saxon spiritual chant and fans of Jethro Tull will find a lot to like in Mother Moore which channels the same musical dichotomy of their early blues sound as it headed into a more folk based career.
The Lucky Strikes always keep you guess from album to album, they re-mix their musical palette to create something new every time, yet something still fitting with what has gone before. Evolution not revolution I guess and why not? And if they are at the forefront of a burgeoning new movement how much better is it to use the phrase Thames Delta Scene than the nonsensical British- Americana.