I once had a U.S. colleague who got so confused by political correctness that rather than describe the celebrated British athlete Daley Thompson as black, she referred to him as a British African-American. It is with that in mind that I hesitate to write about a group that has been described as being a UK Americana band. It's possible, of course, but sounds funny.
ahab (please note there is no capital A at the front so not to be confused with the German rock band Ahab) are one of those struggling bands that have got half a name for themselves, playing clubs and festivals to a generally positive response. I saw them a couple of years ago at the Cropredy festival in Oxfordshire, where they were energetic and very popular.
You get a bit of a feel of that from their latest CD "Live in London". It's fun and makes you want to bop around a bit. It is also very catchy. Unfortunately, it is probably not enough to cement them as more than a travelling band as it stands. They need a punchy, hard-hitting studio album.
The music really is -- ironically enough given what I say above -- UK Americana. It has a heavy U.S. country lilt to it but with a seam of British folk rock running throughout. "Joanna" sounds a bit like something a gentler Richard Thompson might have come up with, while "Million Reasons" is sung in a distinctly British way even if they overall effect is transAtlantic.
"Lightnin' Bug", however, is definitely Stateside. With the country lyrics "I'll take you higher than a lightnin' bug, lower than you've been before", tt would not shame a band from Tennessee. Indeed, ahab did a residency at Tootsies Orchid Lounge during Nashville’s Country Music Awards festival a year or two back.
All the songs are written by the four band members except Dylan's "Wagon Wheel" (sometimes known as "Rock me, momma"). That song suggests the singer has "made it down the coast in 17 hours". In Britain, that would mean you had driven all then way down then about half way back up again at least. This album is a bit like that. Good, but limited in how far it can go.
I like ahab's sound and what they stand for -- young Brits making good music with a U.S. flavour and apparently having fun doing it. They need a bit of a break though.
Find out more on the band's website.
Check out a live performance by Ahab at Fairport Convention's Cropredy Festival -