Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Tillers - "Hand On The Plow"

Cincinnati trad-folk trio The Tillers recently released their new album, Hand On The Plow, through Muddy Roots Music Recordings.  The band creates a timeless blend of old time bluegrass, country & western, blues and rootsy folk with an underlying punk spirit and is led by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mike Oberst along with brothers, Sean and Aaron Geil.  Their fifth studio album was produced by Brian Olive who was able to capture their close-knit live energy perfectly while also allowing them the space to stretch out and add in additional instrumentation for a fuller sound.    
The album opens with the jaunty banjo and insistent acoustic guitar strumming of “Old Westside” that sets the scene for their descriptive folksy narratives.  “The Road Neverending” follows as Sean takes over lead vocal duties on the introspective track.  Recent live favorite and standout track, “Shanty Boat” is given a proper studio recording with its super-catchy bobbing rhythm and vocal cadence.  The swampy blues of “I Gotta Move” is slightly darker with a Tom Waits vibe and features some blistering harmonica solos by guest Col. J.D. Wilkes, adding in a new dimension to their bluegrass-leaning sound.  “Willy Dear” is a dusty, Woody Guthrie-like tune with soaring harmonies and a bittersweet melody.  Another standout track, “Tecumseh On The Battlefield” is highlighted by a locomotive-like rhythm and some lively fiddle playing.  Next, “Can’t Be True” drips with heart-aching emotion that shines through in both the music and the lyrics.  Elsewhere, “500 Miles” sadly is not a cover of the 90’s song of the same name by The Proclaimers - and now I wonder what it would sound like in their able hands - but it is equally as catchy with flickering banjo figures and a sing-along chorus.  The eleven-track album closes out with “Weary Soul” which is driven by shuffling wire-brush percussion and a regret-soaked nostalgia.    
Through non-stop touring, The Tillers have made quite a name for themselves with their “must see” live show but with their new album, Hand On The Plow, the spotlight should now rest on their great songwriting and give them the wide-spread recognition they deserve.   

For more info: http://the-tillers.com/home/ and http://muddyroots.myshopify.com/


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