For a band that’s only been together since 2013, this first full-length album from The Way Down Wanderers belies the brief nature of their existence.  An album filled with the richness of American music on numerous levels, I would have said on a guess that this was the work of seasoned players from the Grand Ole Opry.

The exhilarating fiddle fills and banjo runs on the opening cut, “Dead Birds” is just a fragment of what makes this album an instant eye opener. The vocal harmonies can induce chills; the upbeat nature of the melody makes you pay attention and you know this is bound to be more than just pretty good; subsequently, “Sweet Morning Vision” is a little more subdued but has a classic country feel, although it does pick up tempo and bursts into country pop (NOT in the modern sense, thankfully) and “Circles” is in the same vein – classic country melodies, lyrics that are painted by longing and loss, dramatic yet hopeful – a high point of this album (and a wonderfully tasteful piano solo!).  “Wildfire” opens with a gorgeous accapella harmony and springs right into a hyperdrive rhythm and pace that fits the lyric, leaving you breathless (my god, that banjo!); “Changing” does the same thing – opens with accapella vocals but then the surprise is that it goes into a rock vein (!) with a taut, heavy guitar body and this does, indeed, rock!  “The Way I Love You Now” is another quick tempo piece (if 100 m.p.h. is “quick”) but is joyful and tight; “Midnight Flowers” closes the album in a perfect fashion – stripped down with just guitar and voice – to gently bring you back down to Earth to catch your breath.

I have to give very high marks to these incredibly fine players who make up The Way Down Wanderers; they have fire, skill and certainly a great love and appreciation of the roots music of this country and they utilize their talents to maximum effect on this absolutely stellar album.  Everything about it is right – the song balance, the production and the way it holds together.  One hell of a debut full length.


The Way Down Wanderers’ self-titled debut album is available now


About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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