2016 – Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; Sep. 3, 2016
Formed about ten years ago in San Francisco by New Orleans musicians displaced from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Honey Island Swamp Band is composed of Aaron Wilkinson (mandolin, guitar, harmonica, vocals), Chris Mulé (guitar, vocals), Sam Price (bass, vocals), Garland Paul (drums, vocals), and Trevor Brooks (keyboards). Their newest release, Demolition Day is a bountiful big bowl of soulfully seasoned Americana roots-rock, and wonderfully written songs produced by Luther Dickinson(North Mississippi Allstars).
An exquisitely funky bassline sets the track for an intoxicating jam fueled with spacy guitar in “Head High Water Blues”. I love the little blasts of brass and boogie-laced piano accompaniment in “Watch and Chain”. Mulé seems to have channeled the spirit of Harry Nilsson while writing “She Goes Crazy”. The innocence lingering in the melody is a fun contrast to the chaotic love story welded into the lyrics. “Katie” is a lovely piece as well. This folky performance with a zydeco spirit is one my favorites. The album comes to a close with the magnificent “Devils Den”. The eclectic sound of Wilkinson’s mandolin and Mulé’s swampy slide guitar set an eerie ominous presence, like a Nick Cave murder ballad.
Demolition Day, one of the more interesting albums to recently dip into my awareness, reveals something new with each listen. I’m downright captivated by this music and so enjoy being unconsciously ushered from genre to genre. That’s a craft in and of itself.