The Vagaband 'Town & Country' - Eggsong

This is another band for whom the term roots music was coined. This Norfolk crew of 8 draws from myriad  sources and the band name suggests the slightly restless nature of their music. Vocalist/guitarist José McGill is the main singer and songwriter who writes both solo and with different band partners. Perhaps a good place to start is with the albums deconstruction of well know Merle Travis/Tennessee Ernie Ford song; Sixteen Tons. This opens with finger-picked guitar and world weary voice before introducing a variety of instruments including clarinet, fiddle and pedal steel, the former having a near middle-Eastern feel that make the song  something special. This may not sit well with all listeners, but it sure sits right with this one.

There are some 22 different instruments named between the eight members and five guests listed on the sleeve and photographed on the cover! McGill produced this debut album, with contributions from others, largely from home and given that basis the sound is clear, full and iinfused with a spirit that a studio might not have captured. 

The Ballad of El Molino has twangy guitar, banjo, pedal steel and a brass infused coda that suggests New Orleans more than Norwich. The rhythm section throughout adds a swing that drives the songs along in a way that shows that this band can move the feet as much as the head. The Bad & The Ugly is a duet with guest vocalist Lauren Dove and again confirms the "ecleticana" that Vagaband represent. There is also a humour at the heart of several of the songs. "Caught in a headlock by the grip of morning" is the opening line of the closing song My Maria, a mid-tempo relationship songs of a lady who stole more that the man's heart.

This band have played numerous festivals and would seem to be ideal to add some festiveness to most occasions and the near hour-long length of TOWN & COUNTRY is filled with many moments that bring a smile to the face and a rhythm to the foot that suggests many would enjoy the trip between their town and through their particular (take on) country.