Riches – The Byson Family

Those of you who follow every word of this blather like it joins up to some sort of narrative (that’s nobody but me, and I’m fine with that) might remember a band called The Temperance Movement. Mrs ForTheDeaf’s favourite rock and/or roll band. There once was a tale of woe. A romantic Christmas shopping city break. Tickets to see The Temperance Movement live. The band splitting up real time during that trip. They announcing the cancellation of their show in the early part of the evening of the show. While we walked around a frozen Liverpool and posed for photo’s with The Beatles statues for our phones, the news came in via the Gram. Tonight’s gig at The Tiv is cancelled. The Lead Singer is unwell, drunk, fired, fell off stage at a festival last night and right off the wagon.

So we had travelled hundreds of miles to see a show we’d accidentally bought double the tickets we needed to (we set it up it for each other as a surprise). We’d booked into a hotel and taken time off work for a gig that didn’t happen. Then the car broke down on the way home. Breaking the bank. At Christmas. Fuck you Phil Campbell. Thanks for nothing.

Time heals all wounds. Mrs ForTheDeaf started wearing her New Songs, Small Stages T-Shirt again when lock-down came (the last tour we had seen with TTM on blinding form was in our local rock club where they’d played a zinger of a show before the release of A Deeper Cut). The Pride EP went back into circulation first. Then White Bear.

All was forgiven long before we heard The Byson Family. Their Debut album snuck up on us. The marketing was so weak it was already out and then re-released as an extended version before we two TTM obsessives had even heard of it. In 2021 when I’ve had my ear to the ground for new rock all year long, some how this one got to us totally organically. And it works all the better for it. For those of you of a folky, bluesy, Celtic rock bent. I give you The Byson Family debut album Kick The Traces.

The album opens with Riches. A mighty piece of Scottish indie pop rock. A powerful and emotive piano driven mid-tempo-middle-aged exercise in quality and control. It smells of Deacon Blue and Teenage Fanclub. It holds the warmth of his old band but also a back room down home Scottish folk vibe. That carries into track two I Wish You No Ill. The Beatles raise their influence here (so the Liverpool trip suddenly becomes kinda relevant again) which has heady Strawberry Fields vocal vibes.

Cross The Line keeps the ‘delic indie at the forefront instrumentally. These guys don’t hit hard, they meander but they still cook up a potent brew. I’m getting Black Crowes off the rails vibes and a shade of Northamptonshire Psych revivalists Temples covering Guided By Voices vibes.

Only Love Can Live has some big old harmonies and enough space in the arrangement to drive a tour van into a white zone for loading and unloading. The Woahahoh’s and the Doodle Ohhs on this record add a warmth and a homely familiarity to songs on the first listen. Once the records lived with you for a while those asides tend to take up residence. They’re leaving toothpaste in your sink and crumbs on the counter in the kitchen they become so familiar with your day to day.

Things do brew up a blues rock storm elsewhere on the album. Not as heavy rock as the previous gig but swaggering none the less. Like The War On Drugs covering The Faces in a Glasgow Gin Palace. Angel of the Reckless is a big churchy stained glass moment. Big old horns and long held notes in that voice. That voice. That’s the big show. Phil has a classic rock and roll voice. Like Joe Cocker or Spike from The Quireboys.

You get a mix of Pink Floyd and Bon Jovi on Lean In And Love Me it shouldn’t work, but it really does. As Hope And Pray with it’s ramshackle honky-tonk shuffles in you become aware of what a great time you’ve been having with this album. There are moments so close to The Temperance Movement you’d think it was all a bad dream and it’s still early December 2019…

OK only in our house. I get they weren’t the whole world to everyone. Hope And Pray is leading the charge so they don’t scare the horses. If this turned up on the forthcoming TTM B-Sides compilation album (already pre-ordered) then nobody would finger it as a stranger in town. Nor would big bluesy ballad You’ve Been A Fool raise the alarm.

It’s the quirkier side to stompers like Blowout that stand apart. Piano and harmony where you would expect power chords and snare. This record feels older than TTM. Older than 2021. If this band were on a bill with Humble Pie, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, The Horrible Crows or The Nova Hawks you’d think, Yeah that works.

The blues is where Phil was born to live though and If You See The Emptiness cements them as a heart on sleeve, kicked around town, beers with tears kinda Glasgow Western revue band. They couldn’t sound more country and yet more Scottish if they were a single mum with a criminal record and a cute feature film about her singing for redemption.

That would conclude the album normally. But this extended before you’ve even heard it version features the urgent and hugely uplifting Lonely Side Up. The massive ballad Echoes In The Dust and Little Bit Longer (extended version) with more guitar SFX and “Woahahs”. There’s also the harp lead busk meets communal choir jam Bluer Things and the Celtic jam night Trouble Was A Road.

We forgive you Phil. Now about this hotel bill.

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