Drawing from the irresistible Stones countrified swagger and such catholic roots influences as The Band, Byrds and later bands like Whiskeytown and Drive-by Truckers gives the New Madrids their musical seasoning. This five piece have a bedrock rhythm section topped with guitars, keyboards, mandolin and pedal steel before adding additional guest textures that include brass, violin and guest vocals; one of which, recorded in Austin, is Brennen Leigh.
This combination allows for some soul-tinged country rock on a set of original songs written by the band members Ian Hutchison and Donny McElligott. The latter’s steel and brass song Shake has a nice retrained yet soulful delivery on a song that sees a relationship hitting the rocks. It is matched in tone by Hutchison’s similarly minded Shine a Light. Hutchison has a voice that is well up to the task of delivering these songs with an authority that gives them their depth and believability. Throughout the album there is a nice mix of rockers and mid-tempo reflection. Mountain of Trouble is a song about standing up and overcoming whatever difficulties life has a habit of throwing your way. There is a positivity in the delivery that sometimes belies the downward nature of some of the song’s themes. Alaska starts out slow and acoustically before reaching the chorus where Brennen Leigh joins in a nice blend of voices that underpin the essential sense of desperation that make this an album highlight.
As debut release go this is a great start for any band and though this is following a well trodden path, the destination is always going to be worth the trip. The New Madrids is another name to add to a growing list of UK bands finding their own space and place. They should be on your musical map if you like your roots/rock music to have some muscle.