The Tillers 'Hand On The Plow' - Muddy Roots

influence by old-time string band music this trio from Cincinnati who play close to a dozen instruments between them and who all contribute to the strong vocal identity of the band. They feature some guests here too including chief Dirt Dauber Col. J.D. Wilkes on harmonica. However they're an essentially self-contained unit.

The eleven songs are of a full fervent folk felicity that makes repeated encounter with the songs an ongoing delight. The songs some mix historical stories alongside those with personal insight. They draw from the misadventures of their own families' as well as from more universal topics alongside song that focus specific incidents like Tecumseh On The Battlefield. They are musicians who have grown. They include a variety of musical influences that doubtless at some time in the past included punk rock as a part of their collective background. The certainly have a well spring of raw energy in their delivery. That and the looseness and freedom that an understanding of music from the Appalachias (as well as other musical orbits) brings to their sound. They also have a history of aligning their music with causes they believe in.

The trio are Mike Orbest, Sean Geil and Aaron Geil and this is their latest release. It's associated with the growing Muddy Roots label stable. It also comes in a very fine Keith Neltner sleeve that only adds to the sense that this is a band going places. And indeed they are touring with Pokey LaFarge which can only broaden their appeal. They are obviously committed musicians who are more concerned with the quality of what they do than just mere commercial instincts. But if they continue to put together such strong combinations of music and packaging they can only also make inroads in that area too.

They make foot-stamping, hard-driving, joyous but aware music that stands that out from the many acoustic outfits that are currently swapping their electric instruments for something more organic. The Tillers plough straight and true and they are planting seeds that will grow.