Released: December 2017
Not gonna lie – Dirtwire is possibly my favourite band right now. I’m not even sure that ‘band’ is the most suitable term to describe this act, which, according the album notes for this latest offering, currently takes the form of a trio. With all three members credited for production alongside at least seven instruments apiece, its safe to say that this is not a band in the ordinary sense. I’d love to see how they go about putting together a live show.
With instruments ranging from guitars, banjo and mandolin to harmonica, jaw harps, kalimba and bones, the soundscape immediately conjures a vibe that can best be described ‘post Americana’, or ‘neo blues’ or something . These dudes are clearly in love with playing organic instruments, and this is reflected in the playful quality that characterises much of their composition.
At the same time, they’re strong on electronic production, using it to cook their instrumental explorations into a flavoursome soup of dance-friendly beats (of the expressive variety that can seemingly only be devised by drummers) and bass delivered in tasteful yet stimulating drops.
Then there’s the vocals. These have increased prominence on Dirtwire albums since their first release, which didn’t incorporate any. Blaze features sung vocals on a handful of tracks. They’re exactly the kind of element that grows on me with each round of listening, being relatively understated and not placed in the forefront of the mix.
The lyrics float my boat, too, successfully avoiding melodrama even when emotional in content, perhaps through the adoption of a somewhat impersonal voice (delivered, for example, through a megaphone, as in opening track ‘Stranger’) that leaves things to the imagination without being overly cryptic.
Overall, this album has a cowboy-esque swagger that makes me feel good, without being conventionally ‘feelgood’. It has depth of spirit without getting too worked up about. It makes me feel like I’m driving cross-country in an old bus with everyone I’ve ever cared about.