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 -

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Tags: Americana, ahab, http://jayjayemgee.wordpress.com/

Comment by Peter Wrench on November 17, 2012 at 1:48pm

I agree that we need a proper studio album now, but let's not damn with faint praise: I've seen them live three times in the last couple of years and, for me, they've definitely got both the ability and attitude to turn in a good one  when the time comes. Good singers, great energy and a lot of fun. 

Comment by Nancy Dunham on November 18, 2012 at 7:24am

Love this review! I think you summed up their sound perfectly. This is a band that just needs a break. Hope they get one really soon! 

So glad you wrote this - 

Comment by Steve Ford on November 21, 2012 at 12:57am

Funny you should refer to Richard Thompson, that most English of artists, who recently won a Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting from the Americana Music Association. Go figure! I really like ahab and in some fair parallel universe they would be bigger than Mumford and Sons. To my ears, they play 70's country rock - more Poco than Whiskeytown. I saw them at a festival earlier this year, and they certainly cut it live. 

Comment by Lucy Greenway on November 21, 2012 at 9:45am
So happy to see this, and to see these guys getting some well-deserved attention! I love this band. I have every EP/CD I could get my hands on, and listen regularly on youtube, soundcloud, and anywhere else I can find them. I would dearly love to see them live. I agree with Steve about the parallel universe - I like Mumford and Sons, nothing against them - but I would rather hear these guys any day. Thanks for the review - I can't imagine them every getting anything other than a positive review!

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.