big toad (label)
January 28, 2022 (published)
In 2019, bassist Andrew Naumann and drummer / percussionist Matthew Brooks left and singer / guitarist / multi-instrumentalist Wille Edwards expanded the group to their four-piece form as it currently is. It’s the first album with this line-up and to say it’s highly anticipated would be an understatement.
OK, let’s get right to the point. From the first brutal and fuzzy riff of “Caught In The Middle”, my ear was caught and it didn’t stop until the last and beautiful moments of “Solid Ground”. It’s not only a great album from Wille & The Bandits, it’s a superb example of roots / rock – excellent writing, exquisite musicality and brilliant production.
I’ve been a fan of the band for several years and really wondered what they would lose when Brooks & Naumann left, but the new guys – Harry Mackaill – Backing vocals, bass guitar, synthesizer, Matthew Gallagher – Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, piano , Mellotron, guitar, backing vocals, Tom Gilkes – Drums and percussion – are top quality. The writing feels fresh and confident, the playing works great as a band, and there is a wonderful feeling that they are free – and able – to perform in any genre that suits the music.
The album was recorded at Sawmills Studios, under the hand of legendary John Cornfield, to the delight of Wille Edwards:
“It had always been a dream for me to record at Sawmills, I was devastated that another piece of musical history was being diverted from a place of inspiration for the arts. “
“However,” Wille continues, “there was a suggestion of fate when a friend took me out fishing at night in a secret spot, which was right in the River Foy, opposite this wonderfully situated building; we all know, even if we don’t realize it, from a childhood reading Wind in the Willows. It got me to research if there was still a chance to record a last album at Sawmills with the The man behind every iconic album recorded out there – Mr. John Cornfield To fund this venture, we turned to our amazing fans who made the dream come true and to whom we are eternally grateful.
The music is loaded with fire, dreams and not a little anger. It was recorded at extraordinary times, but the lockdown, while stopping the band’s constant touring, gave them the opportunity to “stay” at Sawmills and work on this remarkable set of songs.
They range from amazingly dancing rock with an Allman Brothers side – “Will We Ever” asking the question “will we ever be the same” – to the dark epic – “Without You”, facing the prospect of continuing after losing one. being loved one and featuring Wille’s incredibly harsh and moving voice, amazingly performed in one take, and truly heartbreaking – or the sweet and beautiful – ‘Solid Ground’ a prayer that the world should be there for our children and putting featuring an almost ‘Albatross Rhythm and Wille’s quality solo Peter Green.
There is not a single weak moment on the album, 12 tracks that individually remain in memory and together form a stunning modern piece of music.