Combining quintessentially American country vocals with simple, catchy guitar riffs, Alison’s Farm is a strong first release from Bristol’s Moody Will and the Roll, with plenty of potential to develop an ever more unique sound.
As a whole piece of writing, the EP progresses really well, keeping things interesting and showcasing the band’s range of influences. The title and opening track, “Alison’s Farm”, is simple, pretty and chilled, and feels like a real folk song with lyrics that could easily be modern or traditional. From there, the songs get more interesting, more textured, and somewhat darker in places. The closing track, “Margaux”, is the stand out composition for me, offering a lot more peaks and troughs than other tracks, and a real soulful, bluesy edge.
New bands always learn a lot from their first recording, and the production is never perfect. In Moody Will and the Roll’s case, timing can be a bit of an issue, and being really strict about recording to a metronome could make a big difference here. I would also love to have had the backing vocals higher in the mix in places – on the third track, “Sorrow in my Heart”, particularly, there was scope for the backing vocals to add a lot of emotion and power, but they just don’t quite come through prominently enough to deliver it.
It’s not the most exciting music, but it’s not really meant to knock your socks off – this isn’t ‘yee-haw’ country. The mellow feel of it is sincere, and authentic. And it’s always a good sign when you only have to listen to an EP twice before the songs are stuck in your head! Thanks to the hooky pop sensibilities, you can easily imagine lying in a field with your friends at a chilled out acoustic festival, singing along with this music, and that’s an atmosphere a lot of bands can only aspire to deliver.
For me, it’s the vocals that elevate this band above other up and coming acts in this genre. The lead vocal is really stunning – confident across different registers, and genuinely moving in places – and the gentle backing compliments it perfectly. If they continue to fit their songwriting and arranging around showing off the vocals, these guys can’t go wrong.
There’s something incredibly wholesome about this band, and it’ll be fascinating to see where they go next. They’re launching Alison’s Farm, their debut EP, this Saturday (10 December) at the Arts House, and I’m really looking forward to hearing more from them.