HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL – POSTCARDS FROM THE FRIENDLY CITY
One of the prides of Tampa, Have Gun Will Travel, will spend this weekend playing shows around the state to celebrate the release of their new cd, Postcards From The Friendly City. The cd title is a play on the band’s hometown of Bradenton, and it acts as a foreshadowing of the regionalism the band chose to take with the songwriting this time around.
Musically, Postcards is a further continuation of their last album, Casting Shadows Tall As Giants. It would be easy to drop an “alt.country” or “americana” descriptor here and move on, but I really think that sells the band short. Sure, “folk inspired americana with a splash of bluegrass and a dash on indie rock” works, but what the fuck does that actually mean? Hell, I’ve probably typed that exact line five different times and each band probably sounded completely different from the other. So I’m gonna try (and probably fail miserably at trying) to get in depth on HGWT’s sound for a moment. It deserved it on Casting Shadows, and essentially demands it now.
Make no doubt about it, HGWT is a very full band, with Matthew Burke singing and manning the acoustic, banjo, and harmonica duties, Daniel Burke on bass, JP Beaubien playing drums, Scott Anderson on electric guitars and lap steel, and Joshua Hernandez on viola. With all those instruments you’d expect a tumultuously full sound, but what you get is decidedly different. Instead of every instrument fighting and filling in space, it’s like each player has taken a spot on a different corner of a basketball court while Matt plays and sings at center court. I know it sounds like I’m almost calling them empty but somehow they make that space feel inviting to the listener, a sonic dance floor of sorts. It welcomes you in and then the songs sort of surround and envelop you like an old friend you never met. I hope that makes sense. It’s really the best this particular blogger/writer can do.
Lyrically, Postcards really embraces its (and the band’s) hometown, painting a delicate picture of a sleepy Gulf town, complete with landmarks, legends and history. Being a Gulf Coast resident, I love hearing references and hat tips to the town(s) I live and play in but I did wonder if this would limit the album’s appeal outside of this area. Then I got to thinking about how much I love Grayson Capps and how much detail he goes into when he sings about New Orleans and the surrounding parishes and decided it probably won’t be an issue at all, provided the songs are good; which they are. Matt’s lyrics and voice when combined with the band have the ability to invoke feelings within me and that’s why I love music.
Have Gun’s last album, Casting Shadows, garnered great success, managing to secure an NPR spotlight as well as becoming a Top 20 added album on the CMJ charts at one point. Personally I expect Postcards to reach, if not exceed, those same heights, and I’ll start the award avalanche by calling it Essential Listening and the odds-on favorite to be ninebullets.net’s Local Album of the Year. I’d love to hear what y’all think….