Featuring members of Arab Strap (recording and touring members Adele Bethel and David Gow), Sons and Daughters have created a follow-up EP that takes ideas from their first and moves them in completely new directions. The result is a much more engaging release overall, and one that's also downright catchy. The group may have started out doing arrangements of traditional Scottish folk songs, but this newest effort embraces a bit of country, a bit of rock, and a bit of the favorite subjects of one Johnny Cash (god, love, and death).
It should be no surpise, then, that the group has a song named for the man in black on this release, and I think he would have been fine with that. "Johnny Cash" is a rumbling bar-fight of a song that moves along with understated vocals by Scott Patterson which eventually give way to rollicking choruses with all manner of hollering, jangling, and stomping. While the two tracks before it are nothing to sneeze at (especially the chugging opener of "Fight"), it's the third track that really pushes the album off the rails and into great territory.
"Blood" slows things down just a bit but works every bit as well as a 4/4 beat clumps along under male/female vocals and again the chorus brings the rock. Even though the group has definitely gotten louder and faster with this release, they don't feel awkward at all leading into a song with mandolin or other interesting instrumentation, and it makes it all the better. It's garage rock with a touch of country, or perhaps the other way around. Either way, they're doing it better than a lot of the people in the United States trying out the same formula. Heck, by the time you hear the way-out-west picked guitars of the closer "Awkward Duet," the thick Scottish accents will be the only giveaway that you're not listening to good-old Americana. Other than the slightly overlong "La Lune," this is an excellent little release that I hope to hear more from in the future. If you like your country a bit gritty or your rock a bit country, you'd best hunt this one down.