Buddy Black & The Ghost Umbrellas: “The Story on the Road to Waterloo”

Buddy Black

Buddy Black and the Ghost Umbrellas will guide you down dusty roads. Their ragged music, a guided tour through the history of folk, country, and punk, will lead you from the country down to the sea, to the place where we all come together.

“The Story on the Road To Waterloo” starts off the album with a dizzying travelogue, very much in the tradition of the itinerant roots rock band.  A thousand images speed by in a double time two-step blur, hung around the ragged timbre of the vocals.  “Emily” is a Pixies-style rave-up, complete with the knotty guitar leads and the grinding trash rhythm, with a bit of bright beautiful pop in the middle section.

“You  Need To Know” is the sort of gleefully warped take on a country ballad that the Replacements pulled off  from time to time. Here the melodies lurch and fold into each other in a woozy ballet, kicking up the dust from the floor and knocking empty bottles off the tables as you shuffle about with your partner at the end of the night. There’s a true sense of abandon in the vocals, which croon away with a sort of lilting, drunken intensity. After a seductive, whispered confession, a brutal guitar coda and a howling chorus caps the off with slouching magnificence.

“Renfield Would Approve” invites us to consider what could have been if Joe Strummer had fronted the Tennessee Three. Here the iconic idiom of boom-chicka-boom is fused with a larynx-shredding punk vocal, transforming the simple pop progression into a heaving ocean of angst. “Fuck You and Goodbye” is pure kiss-off, a magic and life-affirming stab in the eye of all our detractors, all those who try to mortgage our dreams. “Can The Circle Be Unbroken?” takes us back to the beginnings of roots music, showing us that all the physical distance and the vagaries of history that separate Appalachia and the streets of London are really just illusion; in the end, we are all singing the same songs together.

The intersection of punk rock and outlaw country is well established at this point, and Buddy Black and The Ghost Umbrellas have made their own unique place in this most romantic of rock sub-genres. Combining the classic country-rock sound with the raw aesthetic of early American indie rock, this band has enough hooks to lure your attention while remaining seductively gritty.

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