WILD EARP AND THE FREE FOR ALLS – Dyin’ For Easy Livin’ (Western Myth Records)

Dyin' For Easy Livin'If there is any way in which you’re feeling a bit down, just play this album. There is a joie de vivre? joie de humanity? perhaps just sheer joy? to Dyin’ For Easy Livin’ which means that every time I’ve played the album, quite simply, I feel better and the muscles which put a smile on my face get proper exercise.

To anchor this a little, Wild Earp is a Chicago-based Americana/Rockabilly artist – or, as the publicity describes it, “With a respectful nod to the old masters and a defiant scoff at the purists, Earp croons his country tunes, mixing those pensive trail songs with jumping rockabilly, spirited bluegrass, and ventures into the dark corners of folk…. tales of heartache, sinful living, and celebration [mix] seamlessly with social commentary and absurdism.” The new album, Dyin’ For Easy Livin’, has been made with The Free For Alls, a skilled, creative and enthusiastic band who have developed from an Art Rock background (you feel there’s a film to be made about the history to this album); it is released this Friday.

The single ‘Livin’ the Life’, which you can hear below, is a grand, first person, smilingly optimistic country song.

Elsewhere on the album ‘Step on By’ is classic seventies-inspired country; ‘Big Mistake On Daddy’s Dime’ is treated to an arrangement which, in one fell swoop, is lively, matter-of-fact observational, and allows the story of a late change of lovin’ mind (that a novelist would spend 300 sad pages writing) to come through; ‘I Wanna Go’ is a road song with a difference “Well I know it ain’t green/but I sure do love the smell of gasoline” is the opening line. There are a number of tracks, for example, ‘I Drew the Water’, ‘Smile Like That’ and ‘Two To Midnight’ where the female vocal of Kiley Moore  (‘Sweet Sassy Molassey’ Kiley Moore) –  yup, it’s that kind of band – is given free reign and thereby gives additional breadth of tone to the album.

As for the mix of social commentary and absurdism, you only need to see the titles of ‘Ain’t It A shame (When Your Horse goes Lame)’, ‘I’m Purple’ and ‘You Don’t Mess With A Lioness’ to know you’re going to get both.

The lyric writing is beautifully poised between the deadly serious and the twinkly. ‘Lioness’ for example tells you that you don’t mess with a lioness because “She’ll eat your liver raw”; ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Business But My Own’ takes you through numerous duologues like, “You tell me you’re in bed by seven/But your lights are on past eleven/Well it ain’t nobody’s business but my own” set against rumbumptious Chet Atkins influenced playing.

Dyin’ For Easy Livin’ is great fun – played tight, still making me smile and a band I’d love to have playing at a big party. In the meantime, just make yourself feel good by playing the album. You don’t have to be into Americana to enjoy this.

Mike Wistow

 Artist’s website: https://www.wildearp.com

‘Livin’ The Life’:

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