Preview Galax by Wild Ponies.
Galax by Wild Ponies
Galax by Wild Ponies runs with the freedom of those similarly named creatures, weaving through fields of bluegrass, folk, rock and country. This release is a project husband and wife duo, Doug and Telisha Williams, had wanted to do for some time. Leaving behind the bustle of the modern world, they returned to the farmhouse owned by Doug’s late grandfather near Galax, VA. Out of reach of any wi-fi signal they went back to their roots by setting up a makeshift studio in the barn and assisted by a group of friends, all exceptional musicians, they cut this record. They didn't even listen to their efforts until they had returned home to Nashville.
The result is a beautifully crafted sweep through mountain music, paying homage to its venerable roots but also creating a contemporary feel. This was largely due to the collaboration of old friends from Nashville; Fats Kaplin, Will Kimbrough, Neilson Hubbard and Audrey Spillman. This group was joined by three traditional bluegrass players from Galax; Snake Smith, Kyle Dean Smith, and Kilby Spencer. The result is Galax, the album.
With such a diverse range of styles it’s hard to pick a song of the album but I’ll stick my neck out and go for a shared first between "Will They Still Know Me" and "Hearts and Bones." The former builds on a slow banjo line adding a haunting fiddle behind Doug’s rasping vocals of doubt, "maybe I’m the stranger" accompanied by sparing electric guitar chords. Its only drawback is that Telisha just sings harmonies. To put that right my co-fave puts Telisha up front with her singing on "Hearts and Bones." Achingly sad with minimal but perfect accompaniment, “every heart beats and breaks”. It does after this.
The traditional arrangement "Sally Ann" is a rousing opener. You can just see them all letting rip in that old barn. "Mamma Bird" is in much the same vein, with some expert picking. For a country vibe go to "Goodnight Partner," where Telisha sings to an easy beat with some very fine pedal steel.
That’s just a selection from one person’s view. It’s all good and there isn't a dud track. The production quality far belies the description of setting up a circle of mics and going from there. Galax is as comprehensively performed an example of “Americana” as I've heard for some time.