Blackwater County

Local Bournemouth band Black Water County is about to release their 2nd album. The album entitled “Comedies & Tragedies” was recorded at The Ranch Production House Southampton, with the help of Lewis Johns and Dom Wright. The album is going to be officially released on the 13th March at the Old Fire Station in Bournemouth; with a huge party, with special guests Imprints and Nick Parker and the False Alarms. The band have put in plenty of hard graft over the last 18 months, constantly gigging all over the Country at a host of gigs and festivals. They seem to be on the crest of momentum that could well take the band to the next level and this album could well be one of the pivotal factors. They have faced their fair share of challenges over the years and the recent departure of their fiddle player Russ Scagell was not an easy hurdle to get over, however, the band decided not to replace him and push forward as a five-piece. They started off writing mainly songs about drinking and showed themselves as competent songwriters with the debut album Taking Chances, with gems including the beautiful “Rise & Fall”, “Memories From Another Life” and the raucous live favourite “Start Something New”.

The new record is described by guitarist Brad “if Taking Chances is a post-university tale of early twenties life; refusing to conform and rebelling against anything that stands in the way of a good time, then consider ëComedies and Tragediesí to be a reality check of a sequel; rife with confusion, uncertainty and the struggles of self-identity. The ironic truth behind the theme of the album is that there are no comedies, only tragedies of connecting with the real world and mid-twenties frustrations”. In a nutshell the band are growing up and have a much more mature outlook on life and their musical creation and songwriting indeed reflects this. The album is a 12 track affair where the quintet use the same vital ingredients that they used to start with, but with added experience and gained knowledge.

The album kicks off with a tune that is inspired by a childhood dream where you are waking up older to an unrecognisable reflection which became even more significant in a real-life situation: getting up for work in the morning, looking in the bedroom mirror decorated with the same posters and memorabilia from teenage years gone by and wondering what happened. It starts slowly with acoustic guitars before Tim’s considerable vocal joins along with Gav’s Mandolin and Shan’s Tin Whistle melodies. It’s a foot-stomping romp with hard-hitting percussion that would easily start a mosh pit at one of the bands gigs. Next the title track sees Tim and Shan dueting with great results, a song keeping up the momentum of the first. The band explain “the song is a reaction to negativity in the media and wishing for one piece of positive news. Making parallels with everyday life, the hope for justice is repeatedly crushed with the crippling reality that things can always get worse”. Mistakes kicks off with its infectious acoustic guitar intro, before the band takes you off on a breathless journey with the aid of a contagious tin whistle running throughout.

Blackwater County

From bedroom demo’s to studio rehearsals; these songs underwent a transformation from lonely, miserable accounts of modern-day life to a sound that would make the underlying themes of the album almost unrecognisable. The Black Water County sound is still clearly present: there are still the familiar folk/punk influences of banjo, whistle and fiddle melodies with the driving force rhythm section; but there is less of a tip of the hat to traditional-sounding Celtic Punk – there is much more inspiration taken from pop/punk bands from the bandís teenage years with a stronger emphasis on vocals and guitar. It’s great to see here the band evolve and grow into something created from their own personal leanings. “A Little Honesty” deals with the transition between a long term and long distance relationship, and the struggles that present themselves. The beauty and the beast style vocals with Shan & Tim’s undeniable chemistry continues, it’s one of the standouts. “There Will Be a Day” is undoubtedly another of the standout songs on this collection, It’s the story of an outcast trying to avoid accepting defeat and convincing themselves that things will get better. It comes as the result of years of disappointment and rejection and making sense of how to fit in, which can be taken from many different angles. “Sir Terry Cool” made me think of Sir Terry Wogan when I first saw the title; but it stems from the apparent bond between David Cameron and a dismembered pig’s head, which apparently occurred at a notorious Oxford University drinking club.

Blackwater County

“Living and Giving” is a fast-paced galloping track that is typical BWC, with chanting that I’m sure their live audience will pick up as soon as itís heard. It’s about frustration towards working life and having no time for yourself. It throws a sarcastic view of the ësystemí and the culture surrounding it. “Tether” combines the constant chuckle of Gav’s banjo, paired with Brad’s Rock-style electric guitar and fast-paced foot-stomping rhythms. “Dead End Road” observes the strange sense of social alienation that’s rife in any city; for example London, where scared of actual human interaction and the vast majority seem to have just closed off. Just take a tube journey and everybody tries to avoid eachotherís gaze’, we are by nature a social race and it seems the busiest places are sometimes the most lonely. Just listen to Gav’s expertise on the mandolin on this one, it’s positively mesmerising.

“Darkest Days” is BWC’s dedication to the crazy ever-growing festival family that the band spend most of their Summer’s with. Over the seven years that the band have been together, they have played a whole host of festivals and made loads of friends along the way and this song is all about how they support and uplift them. The penultimate track “Runaway” originally appeared as the ending to “Who Am I Now?” in a Green Day-style rock opera. However, the song stood strong enough on its own and was the perfect way to finish the album; it wholeheartedly embraces individuality. The final song “Sorry” is a bonus track and an essential listen for all BWC fans, it shows something very different from anything they have put out before. It’s the story of a crippling break-up for a person trying everything to form a fitting apology. Tim really puts his all into this sterling heartfelt vocal delivery, which is backed with some lovely strings accompaniment. It’s certainly a tower of a track and one that deserves its place in the bands live set without doubt.

Blackwater County

“Comedies and Tragedies” shows a band who have matured like a fine wine, they deliver clearly what they have learned over the past seven years as a band. The creation process has been meticulous and they have used the best of talent to help them. They recruited the help of former members Russ Scagell and Andy L Smooth along with ‘The Lagan’s’ Morgan Lee on fiddle. The band say that the unsung hero of this album is “Lewis Johns” at The Ranch Production House. He along with Dom Wright were crucial in capturing what was intended with “Comedies and Tragedies”, and the band are overwhelmed with the final result. The album will enable the band to keep doing what they love best, going out on the road and performing live. Here they have a new collections of songs that will keep their army of fans very happy and gain themselves many more.

Track Listing
Who Am I Now
Comedies & Tragedies
A Little Honesty
There Will Be a Day
Sir Terry Cool
Living and Giving
Dead End
Darkest Days

Tim Harris – Vocals, Bass
Shannon Byrom – Vocals, Tin Whistle
Gavin Coles – Banjo, Mandolin, Vocals
Bradley Hutchings – Guitar, Vocals
Simon Edwards – Drums
Morgan Shaw (The Lagan) Fiddle



Words by David Chinery.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to MySpace