THE GOAT ROPER RODEO BAND – Tall Grass (Old Pup OPR003)

Tall GrassA trio from Rhuddlan in North Wales, comprising brothers Jim (lead guitar) and Tom Davies (percussive double bass) and Sam Roberts (rhythm guitar), all three of whom live in a caravan, they take their prime influence from The Band and are characterised by their high pitched, nasally vocals that sound like they hail from the deep south rather than near Rhyl.

They call their music Cosmic Country Blues and there’s a definite jug band feel in places, the music always fluid and upbeat even when it hits melancholic notes. Tall Grass is their third album and, like its predecessor, is produced by Romeo Stodart from The Magic Numbers, who also plays banjo, the instrumentation fleshed out with keys and pedal steel.

They kick off with the latter in evidence alongside harmonica on the rolling rhythm of a slightly swampy ‘Unwrap My Bones’, steering into more sunshiney musical territory for ‘Desert Flower’ while the tempo shifting ‘Main Street’ carries Beatlesqseue Sgt Pepper hints in the slower passages .

They briefly slow it down for the lazy swaying strum of ‘Bright Lights And Deadbeats’ and the sleepy country blues of ‘Keep On’ sandwiched between which they fuel-inject things with the driving drums of live rock n rolling favourite ‘High Heel Blues’, the vocals and licks tumbling over each other in a flurry.

Old-fashionedly divided into A and B, the second ‘side’ opens with the slap bass rhythm of break-up acceptance number ‘The Pulse’ before ‘Anyway Anyhow’ again nods to rockabilly influences and organ and keening pedal steel lend the trio a new soulful edge for the introspective ‘Toss & Turn’.

It’s back to a goodtime vibe with the shuffling swing ‘I Can’t Fly’ and even more so with the banjo-led ‘Ask For Alice’, the most jug band number of the set with a three art harmony chorus born for festivals or end of the night pub crowd swayalongs.

They pull down the shutters with the treated background vocals and sparse blues of the atmospheric ‘Don’t Mind The Rain’ from whence comes the album title, its slightly creepy feel showing how effectively they can leaven the lightness and bring darker tones to add dimension and colour to the sound.  A goat roper is a wannabe rancher or cowboy poser who has the hat but not the brains. These boys though are the real authentic thing.

Mike Davies

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Artists’ website: https://www.goatroperrodeoband.co.uk/

‘High Heel Blues’ – live: