Thursday, September 7, 2017

The B&O Railroad - Demo

The B&O Railroad are an interesting and captivating group, to say the least. They play original songs as well as traditional compositions heavily tinted by Appalachian Folk, American Folk and bluegrass. I have a great affinity for folk music of various kinds, so these guys hit home right away. What makes them even more interesting is the breadth of the members’ backgrounds. Doom, metal, black metal, stoner and jam rock are some of the genres the guys normally move within. But this variety helps the band to be what it is. Boundaries are brought down and open-mindedness floats through the music in a way it normally wouldn't.

‘Bethorned Grandeur’ has the honour of starting this great recording. Full of vocal harmony running side by side with mandolin, steel resonator and banjo and backed by a sorrowful acoustic bass guitar, to me this tune is a lament to leaving your homestead and beautiful surroundings for pastures new and uncertain. Next up is a classic composition, ‘Soldier’s Joy’. The B&O Railroad makes a fantastic rendition of this tune which dates back to the fiddle traditions of Scotland and Ireland several hundred years ago. It’s an upbeat and “happy” song musically and makes me want to dance, however lyrically it has a much darker side. During the Civil War soldier’s joy was a concoction of whiskey, beer and morphine heavily used by soldiers to cope with the atrocities of the war. ‘Poor Wayfaring Stranger’ follows and picks up elegantly where ‘Soldier’s Joy’ left off. It tells the melancholy story of a dejected person’s journey through life. The band hits home perfectly with it, bringing out eerie haunted feelings and thoughts. Beautiful!

More upbeat and joyful musically, ‘Mouth Of The Black River’ makes me want to pick up a beer or 5 and make a futile attempt of a double left-footed jig. A colossus at almost 12 minutes it depicts amazing yet rugged landscapes and the joy and frustration of living in this terrain. Slowing down slightly in tempo, ‘Fruit From Rot’ is indeed a sad story of struggle and pain which is enhanced not only by the instrumentation by also by the beautiful vocal harmonizing. The deep thundering acoustic bass guitar leads the way as closer ‘W.T.O.C.B.’ kicks in. Moving back and forth in tempo the instruments does the harmonizing and dueling, taking turns backing whichever one is in the lead. Great stuff, indeed!

The guys in The B&O Railroad have really outdone themselves on this journey where the listener is taken through significant time periods in American history. Best of all, it feels as if you are transported there and you live what they sing. It’s a joy to press play and hear, and see, the beautiful paintings they create. Amazing, guys, truly amazing!


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