Dorset’s Black Water County have been prominent faces around the local festival and gig scene for quite a while now. Their brand of folk/punk has been thrilling audiences since forming on St Patricks Day in 2013 over many pints of Guinness. The band have already released a couple of EP’s a Christmas single, a cover of “Fairy-tale of New York”. This year the band take things to the next step with the release of their long awaited debut album “Taking Chances”. This was recorded at The Ranch Production House in Southampton with Lewis Johns and Dom Wright in November and December of last year.
The first listen through of the album just shows how far these guys have come as musicians and song writers, there are so many improvements in all areas. The album opens at a frantic pace with “Start Something New” with a foot tapping rhythm combined with violin and mandolin. Tim’s bull by the horns vocals are powerful and deliver coupled with collective harmonies. It’s undoubtedly Black Water County and you can already imagine the song played in front of a raucous mosh pit at a festival on a hot summers evening. “The painful truth” has a distinctively Celtic feel to it with some lovely Tin Whistle and beautiful melodies from Rus’s violin.
“Way Down Low” brings in Gav’s rather addictive fast-paced banjo sound which plods along merrily coupled with beauty and the beast style vocals of Tim with Shan. “If Only You Were Here” has a much more rockier feel with heavy guitar and Shan takes on lead vocals before Rus brings in some more lovely violin. ìRise and Fallî win the award for the most addictive song, just listen to it once and the melodies with be rolling around in your head for ages afterwards. The lyrics, percussion, guitars, banjos and combine to make once very special soon which Iím sure will become a live favourite.
The band seem to have most certainly pulled out all the stops to make their debut “one to remember”, and what is great to see is that they have re-recorded two of their most popular songs for inclusion on this collection. For anyone who has seen the band live won’t ever forget the foot stomping “One More Beer Won’t Hurt” which is possibly has one of the most addictive choruses every penned. In another first for Black Water County, the can actually do quieter, “Memories from another Life” is a beautifully put together ballad style piece where Shan truly excels on vocals with some very moving song-writing.
“Rambling Johnny” a song about a randy fellow who goes around sowing his seed all over the place, gets a complete makeover too. For the first time the band successfully introduced brass to the mix and if you fear that you ears will get overloaded with too many different sounds, don’t be, the engineers have done a cracking job in bringing everything together, making sure the combinations all work perfectly together. “No Regrets” is possibly one of my favourite tunes on the album, once again brass is introduced, and it’s Tim’s turn to show us some more impressive vocal delivery. “Under Skies of Black and Blue” is another foot stomper and is a return to that classic BWC sound that we have been so used to hearing at gigs. The last song “Seeing is Believing” slows things down with a delightful tin whistle and acoustic guitar intro before going into some nice harmonic vocal arrangements.
“Taking Chances” is one of the best debut albums I have heard in a very long time, the band have collectively pulled all their major resources together to bring us 11 tracks that are all individual masterpieces that will have widespread appeal.
Start Something New
The Painful Truth
Way Down Low
If Only You Were Here
Rise and Fall
One More Beer Won’t Hurt
Memories from Another Life
Under Skies of Black and Blue
Seeing Is Believing
Black Water County are
Shan Byrom – Lead Vocals & Tin Whistle
Tim Harris – Lead Vocals & Bassist
Gavin Coles – Banjo, Mandolin, & Guitar
Bradley Hutchings – Rhythm Guitar & Backing Vocalist
Andy L Smooth – Drums & Percussion
Russell Scagell – Violin, Acoustic Guitar & Backing Vocalist
Neil Doherty- Trumpet
Geza Moln·r- Trombone
Nick Smith – Saxophone
Words by David Chinery
Pictures by Marianne Harris