Sunday, August 28, 2016

Backwoods Payback - In The Ditch


Released back in February 2014, 'In The Ditch' had been conceived during a dark period for Backwoods Payback. That is heavily accentuated in the songs featured here which hits home with eerie accuracy. For someone who has followed the band this is not strange at all knowing frontman Mike Cummings is a poet laureate. He does write some of the most compelling lyrics you will ever find, regardless the subject matter. Once I finally got my hands on a copy of 'In The Ditch', almost two years after its release, the band was on extended (indefinite?) hiatus, so the haunted and desperate lyrics expanded even more for me. You know, the sadness of the songs was heightened by my mourning the break up of a favourite band.

A gut-wrenching guitar initiates opener ‘On The Chain’ and sets the mood until the vocals kicks, and everything becomes even more gut-wrenching. Struggling relationships, inadequacy, dejection and self-doubt walk hand in hand, while you clutch at straws for one last glimmer of hope. Musically, the song builds up and gets heavier the way only Backwoods Payback can do it. ‘Fooled You’ is kind of punkish with a mid-paced tempo with rock thrown in to stir things up, where the band goes through the motions of a relationship without a spark. Where the antagonists try to one-up each other; where they take the easy way out instead of confronting the issues that are destroying the relationship. Therefore, both start believing the lies which obviously brings them down further. ‘Always Something’ is the “odd one out” musically with its groovy Americana bluesy feel and upbeat. Lyrically, it is quite the opposite dealing one bad thing always follow another. Or you always help someone out to the point where you are taken for granted but you are left to your own device when asking for a helping hand back.

‘Water For Water’ sees Backwoods Payback start off slowly, building things up while creating chilling atmospheres. Taking things at face value, not questioning and reading between the lines, the songs shows how easy it is to dupe and trick gullible people to do horrendous things. As the pace picks, a beautiful soaring guitar line commences leading to a balls-out ending. Loads of groove and riffs with honest, desperate vocals floating on top over it all, the song tells about doing things unconditionally for someone, because you trust and believe them. However, under the surface things are maybe not good and honest. Still, you stand up for these people leaving you counting the cost. Closer ‘Buffalo Nickel’ depicts people who are down and out and holding on to those who drags you down. All you want is a sign to stay or go, so you swallow the hurt and stay. Weaves back and forth between punkish aggression and slow abject melancholy.

Backwoods Payback is a band that never fails to deliver. I’ve already stated Mike Cummings lyrical skills but also musically this band always find the perfect way to make the instruments accentuate the words. And the outcome is of course amazing! Despite the sadness and darkness of ‘In The Ditch’ there’s a lot of vibration running through the songs. Don’t know if it is because of the mood or a reaction to it, regardless, this vibration brings out a lot of energy which subsequently brings out some light and hope. As for the lyrical content it is my interpretation of it. You, dear waverider, might perceive it differently and that’s perfectly fine. As long as you enjoy it and find something in there, all is good! To round off, don’t miss out on this master piece, or any of Backwoods Payback’s entire catalog for that matter, because this Pennsylvanian outfit are one of the best in the country.


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