Dave Gerard & the Watchmen

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Out now through Bandcamp

I don't know about you but sometimes you want music that's like your favourite jogging trousers and old tee, something warm, comfy, and familiar. Usually we turn to the albums we consider to be our "classics", but sometimes we turn to a specific genre either to rock out or chill out. For me, this genre is folk and, in particular, the new folk that has a big dose of Americana, the new folk of recent days.

Whilst the poster-boys of this genre - Mumford and Sons - are not to everyone's taste, they did the genre a great service and brought it back into the margins of the mainstream. Folk music is now no longer solely the realm of bearded, pipesmoking, be-jumpered, wax jacket-wearing fishermen, or at least middle-aged / elderly bearded, pipesmoking, be-jumpered, wax jacket-wearing fishermen.

Dave Gerard & the Watchmen fit nicely into this space and would not be out-of-place on a bill with artists such as Mumford and Sons, Noah and the Whale, Gungor, Fleet Foxes, Stylusboy, & Martin Plock. Theirs is a new yet familiar cross between folk and Americana - not country, more new folk. This may be semantics to some but Dave Gerard has a voice that I can listen to for extended periods of time, a beautifully masculine voice that has a smoothness about it that I find delightful. His voice isn't a country voice and thankfully none of the songs get close to the stereotypical country subject matter, something that makes me very happy.

 

 

In fact, Wooden Castles makes me very happy indeed. It is a relaxed, dressed-down Friday of an album that I really do enjoy. Here's why:

The vocals are a delight - warm and welcoming, the main male vocals carry the melody with female vocals providing harmonies that really enhance the songs.

The music is also a pleasure to consume - centred around the acoustic guitar and drums, the instrumentation feels toe-tappingly familiar in the special way easily accessible music always seems to do. Piano, upright bass, cello, electric guitar, and a banjo all contribute effectively to make very nice upbeat walls-of-sound (eg ’Viking Burial’). They also provide the backing for more downtempo songs (eg ’All is Grace’) and even hint at the possibility of an ambient soundscape (the opening bars of ’Intro’), all sounds I thoroughly enjoyed.

The lyrics are a delight too - they inspire and inform, catching my attention and staying there long after the track has finished. 'Cureless Love' is a prime example of this: "Ours a cureless love, and yours the atoms I prefer" - that's getting used on my wife’s Christmas card for sure.

All in, Wooden Castles by Gerard & the Watchmen is an utter delight. It is an album of songs that are paradoxically familiar yet brand new, songs that seep into the conscious and have you singing along without you even noticing. I hope the instrumentation and vocal delivery will enthral you as much as it has enthralled me.

Recommended to new folk fans as well as people looking for something warm and friendly.

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