Album Review: Stick in the Wheel – From Here

Stick in the Wheel - From HereStick in the Wheel have been getting a lot of press attention of late and it is with exceedingly good reason. Their last outstanding EP Bones was an international hit and they have spent every moment since then crafting their debut album From Here and now they have finally been able to bring it into the world.

There is a tremendous raw, unadulterated power that clings to Stick in the Wheel’s music although it is fairly simplistic in terms of the musical content behind each of their songs. Each song carries within it an aged quality that is evocative of old sea-faring towns and rough-handed sailors clambering across sea salt soaked decks. This is not to say however that there is not a contemporary vibe that undercuts their work. Songs such as Me an Becky bring their music hurtling back into the present day as it deals with more modern themes and issues whereas many of their other songs sound as though they are contemporary twists on something that has been carved from time.

This aged quality is greatly enhanced by the simple but powerful folk melodies that they produce – like modern day sea shanties they are rife with rich fiddle tunes that float around you intermingling with eager, speedy drumbeats, deft guitar and dancing accordions. They all combine to provide a rich but subtle cacophony of sound that give them their timeless quality.

Finishing this image of completely is the fact that the whole thing is fronted by an incredible set of vocals that sound as though they could only ever have been created to suit this band. One of the things that makes Stick in the Wheel so wonderful is the fact that at no stage are they afraid to be themselves. Their website states that ‘we sing the songs of our people. In our own accents’ and they truly do. You will never find such a true and vibrant tone from any other band or performer. They have the power to feel polished and raw at the same time, like they’ve practiced for years but they’re still playing with as much vim and vigour as they did the first time they set foot on a stage. Their rendition of Bedlam Boys is one of the best and most authentic renditions we have ever heard and feels well crafted but rough and edgy – exactly the way it should feel.

Their powerful fronting vocals are dominating and completely encapsulating and they allow their music to lift them up from the background. They are capable of bursting forth with a raw, aggressive rocked up sea shanty to get your blood thoroughly pumping but they are equally as capable of crafting a charming, tender melody. They sound as if they were bred to be in a sea town tavern somewhere surrounded by drunken sailors and lashings of ale. From Here is a wonderful debut album after a series of incredible EPs that lined their way. Some bands might struggle to surpass their previous work when it comes to bringing a full album to life but not this band. Stick in the Wheel are here; bigger and bolder than ever.

Joe Knipe

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