Twerk & Twang – Broken Radio (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Twerk &Twang covers a lot of ground musically speaking and that generally suggests one of two scenarios. Often new artists will find themselves unfocused, unsure of their own musical identity and so dabble in all manner of sounds and styles. But Klaus Patzak, the man behind Broken Radio is anything but new to the game and so it is to the second scenario that we are directed.

This is one where we have an artist though well-versed in rock, folk and country, isn’t content to stay within those familiar territories, or at least likes to blur their sonic boundaries, mixing them with all manner of other inspirations and influences, resulting in a sound which incorporates everything from the iconic pedal steel to unexpected synthesisers, from analogue campfire guitars to digital drum loops. In other word this is roots music for the modern age.

The album is certainly powered by a country, or perhaps an Americana vibe, to be honest I’m never really sure where one ends and the other starts, sometimes channelling very traditional sounds such as a gentle and jaunty opening instrumental Summer Rewind, sometimes in more forward-thinking and exploratory ways as with the song which follows, Kill Your Darlings. By contrast this is an electro-laced piece of dark and brooding country-rock which seems to skirt the same apocalyptic blues that Nick Cave was so wedded to in the early days.

Sad Symphony is a hushed and hazy ballad, washed with ornate, orchestral string sounds and some atmospheric and glitchy precision which adds a wonderful touch of the odd and the original, and Restless Traveller is sort of a cinematic, alt-country, future vision. At the other sonic extreme, Beat Up V8 plays with the traditional country-rock sound of old but again comes from a different place, here sounding as if could be the score to a Mad Max movie, had one been made where Texarkana meets Tex-Arcana. The whole things rounds off with a wonderful folky duet and some lovely boy-girl vocal interplay in the form of Many A Mile.

The art of moving genres forward, especially ones such as country and folk, ones with a long history and lush heritage, is to do so slowly, deftly and tactfully. Too much of a shock to the system and those already fans of those genres tend to drop away in droves. Twerk & Twang is the sound of just such a tasteful and restrained evolution. It will tick all the right boxes with existing roots fans, folk fanatics and custodians of country traditions but it also expands the sonic palette, pushes the boundaries and raises expectations. And it does all of that through eleven fantastic songs, songs which both cover a lot of ground and which work as a cohesive and consistent collection. Perfect.

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