The album opens with the wonderful ’Railroad’, a song that paints a vivid picture of a small town community which revolves around the hub that is the local train station. The jangly opening guitar riff is punctuated perfectly by bass and drums and the production is excellent throughout. With a slight country vibe, the song has a nostalgic feel-good buzz and the brilliantly descriptive lyrics will have you picturing this place in your mind’s eye.
‘Can’t Go Back’ enters with a beautifully delicate intro – a soothing mixture of acoustic guitar, keys and gentle drumming. The song is inspired by childhood memories – heading to school through the snow, old friends and the passing of time. The track still retains that slight country vibe – think The Rolling Stones in some of their mild country moments. The song jars a little about 3 minutes and 20 seconds in as a rather loud string section enters. The dynamic doesn’t really work as it occurs a bit too suddenly, given what has come before.
‘Transport’ contains some fantastic country guitar playing – those fast sliding licks and bends are very well executed and with perfect tone. The instrumentation throughout is top notch and a clever guitar solo adds to the already impressive array of playing, before a quiet mid section then builds and takes us home via some colourful tremelo picking. Track four, ’15 Years, opens with a violin piece – the waltz feel has a Neil Young
vibe and the track is wonderfully laid back, the violin adding another dimension. ‘I Was A Miner’ begins with an addictive little guitar pick and a strong bass line supports proceedings, before a catchy chorus seals the deal. The song’s only weakness being that the lyrics border dangerously on the sickly sweet. The title track, ‘Family Tree’ features some excellent acoustic guitar finger picking, the guitar tone shimmering beautifully. The vocal performance on the track is not the strongest on the album but there is an honesty in the delivery that sees it over the line. ’1748′ actually reminds me of early Thin Lizzy -
the Eric Bell
era and the Shades of A Blue Orphanage
album. The song is all storytelling – an adventure out west, digging for gold and silver, the feel of the wild west embellished by harmonica and slide guitar. ‘Lifejacket’ keeps the relaxed vibe as the sound of waves gently lapping mixes with a lazy slide guitar. The colour provided by the band is very impressive, the wide range of instruments constantly adding new layers.
Final track ’When We Got To The Boarder’ begins with some fine organ playing, perfectly positioned in the mix, filling out its register but never dominating the spectrum. The band close as they opened – a gentle end to a finely crafted collection of songs.
The album is a thoroughly enjoyable affair from start to finish. The band’s blend of laid back American-tinged country rock and folk is a very pleasant mix. The lyrics are wonderfully descriptive throughout and the instrumentation is of the highest standard. All in all a fantastic effort from You Kiss By The Book.