THE WESTERN FLYERS – Wild Blue Yonder (Versa-Tone Records)

wild blue yonderSometimes we review really serious albums and sometimes they are just for fun. I wonder if you can guess which sort Wild Blue Yonder is. The Western Flyers are a trio comprising Joey McKenzie on arch-top guitar, fiddler Katie Glassman and Gavin Kelso on double bass. All three sing but there are no other instruments and no guests, what you hear is straight as it comes. They’re all seasoned musicians who gravitated together in Texas to form this new line up and play the music they love. That music is western swing.

The songs are mostly old standards and if you examine their history you’ll find names like Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Roy Rogers, Merle Haggard and Doris Day. Although the music is authentic, The Western Flyers have no compunction about picking up a song wherever they find it, even shifting into jazz with Joe Venuti’s ‘The Wild Dog’. The set opens with ‘You’re From Texas’ – I don’t suppose they could start with anything else, really – followed by ‘Along The Navajo Trail’ and a real old bluegrass tune, ‘Carroll County Blues’. Katie sings ‘Tennessee Waltz’ in authentic country style but her interpretation of ‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter’ owes little to Fats Waller and even less to Frank Sinatra. Joey tackles standards like ‘Old Fashioned Love’ and ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’ like…well, remember singing bandleaders in old films – just like that.

The whole album moves at breakneck speed with only two tracks topping three minutes. Whether it’s a song or an instrumental, they don’t hang around – ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ really shifts. You’ll either love Wild Blue Yonder for its sense of fun or dismiss it as a bit of froth but you really should listen to it once.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ live: