A thoroughly enjoyable and tuneful collection of songs, Medicine For The Soul, the new release from the U.K.’s The Vagaband, is an exercise in melody. For a sophomore release, this gathering of eleven songs sound like a group who’ve traveled the roads together for a long time – and the sounds contained within sound like the roads of the United States. This eight-piece ensemble are firmly planted in Americana/roots rock and they wear those influences proudly on their collective sleeve, considering they hail from Norfolk, England – although to be fair, there are some playful dashes of The Small Faces (and other “classic” British stalwarts), during their Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake period, in the mix for good measure.
Predominantly driven by Jose McGill (guitar/vocals) and Greg Cook (piano), the songs have an ebb and flow that range from the joyful and almost celebratory to the cerebral and darker range of emotions. Starting with “Lifted”, a gentle, country-like number with tender pedal steel runs and building up with the sweetest harmonies, you’re immediately filled with images of the American South; “Black Sheep” is a flat-out bluegrass tune with nifty banjo and fiddles and “Gabrielle” is a 100-m.p.h. fiddle stomp that leaves you breathless. “Medicine For The Soul” reminds me a little of Neil Young, with its world-weary vocal, acoustic guitar and harmonica; “Ten Bells Waltz” is exactly that – an old-world piece that serves as a perfect bridge to “A Town With No Name”, which sounds like something you’d hear in a New Orleans speakeasy, built around some very tasteful piano figures and and a lyrical painting of desperation (“…the street’s are tired; this party’s over – the waves upon the water couldn’t wash away the stain…”).
A great find; a quality album of songs and stories – full marks and praise to The Vagaband. Medicine For The Soul is an excellent elixir.
Medicine For The Soul is available now