The Ramshackle Army

Letters From the Road Less Travelled

Written by: BW on 14/02/2014 00:47:47

The Ramshackle Army deal primarily with the same kind of shanty styled, Irish twanged rock that you would associate with bands like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys. So when “Letters from the Road Less Travelled” appeared in the post I got rather excited. If you’re a fan you’ll know that this genre is really good at getting your toes tapping and, like most of the songs they lament about, are even better when drink is applied. How is it as an album then?

The intro starts you on your voyage by easing you in with a nice little instrumental sea shanty before blowing the cannons with “Anchors Aweigh” and it has that nice tempo that songs of this ilk need to get you involved. Very pleasant on the ears with the obligatory harmonised chorus, unique instruments and a very excitable drum kit. There is a nice undertone of guitar and it doesn’t overpower the rest of the band. It’s a cracking little ditty to get the ball rolling.

As we move out of port on our sea faring pirate voyage, so the well paced songs keep on coming. “Coffin & Copper” keeps the momentum going and whistles along nicely, with a bigger lean towards the fiddles and accordion this time. There are some little banjo cameo appearances as well, which diversify it a little bit and make it a nice song of balance, with each instrument getting their own little spot in the limelight.

Some of the songs on the album don’t so much lean to the stereotypical feel of pirate rock, as “Boiler maker” proves. It almost has a feel of 70’s/80’s punk about it, but again keeps the tempo high and leaves the foot you had tapping at the start of the first track carrying on without a care in the world. Then the title track comes in, which is probably the highlight for me, as “Road Less Travelled” manages to keep a heritage and style of the genre whilst bringing in the modern styles and helps to create a nicely balanced song, with a steady beat and a solid performance by all.

For most of the album to be fair it manages to keep this rather fine melody and soul mix well balanced which results in a decent record to listen to, but like most sails on the choppy seas, when you don’t have the wind mid voyage things can go just a little flat and this album does have that similar problem. For me, “Broken Town” and “Lockdown” just don’t seem to have the same punch that the other songs have, which is even more noticeable when you have such a high tempo set of tracks on the disc. I’m not saying that albums shouldn’t have different types of songs, but I feel in this instance it hurts the overall feel of the album a little bit. “Broken Town” just feels a little flat and it doesn’t captivate you as much as you would like, with “Lockdown” almost sounding like a modern rock song played with the wrong instruments and again just doesn’t seem to fit in.

This is a shame, as when the wind picks up after these two the songs get better again. “Broken White Lines” and “Skin Will Burn” are standouts and almost light a fire in the belly as you near your destination. As I say, it is such a shame that the two changes of scenery just don’t seem to make you feel they should belong there and it feels like it almost takes away from your enjoyment a little. It’s the musical equivalent of someone sitting next to you in the cinema with a pack of sweets in noisy wrappers while you’re watching a film.

The rest of The Ramshackle Army’s album I like and think it is a toe tapping little corker, but that little bit of filler takes the shine off the killer just a bit. It’s still worth a listen if you fancy something different and if you’re a fan of this style of music then you’ll appreciate what this Aussie band are doing on this second album and probably relate them to Flogging Molly, like I did. A little bit of fine tuning in certain areas and there is no reason to not be hearing more of them as time goes on.


Download: Anchors Aweigh, Coffin & Copper, Boilermaker, Broken White Lines
For The Fans Of: Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys, The Pogues

Release Date 17.02.2014
East Grand Record Company

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