By Lauren Sloss | June 28th, 2011
The first time I heard Before There Were Easy Riders, the debut album from the indie-country outfit The Broken Spoke, reactions were, to say the least, mixed. “UGH,” explained one listener. “It was all going fine until that voice! The TWANG!”
We all laughed, but I was sad . Because I think it’s a shame that people let a singing approach deter them from enjoyable, well-executed, Americana folk-filled music. What’s so wrong with twang? It’s one of the more distinctly American musical traits out there, and when done well, adds a distinct quality to songs.
My rant aside, I find that The Broken Spoke provide a very nice example of twang done well. Even their nostalgic album title harkens back to a distinctly Western view of thinking; paired with slide guitars and steel drum beats it finds a comfortable home among predecessors ranging from Johnny Cash to The Avett Brothers. This is fitting — the Colorado-based band seem to have taken stock of their high-altitude surroundings and decided that this indeed remains the frontier.
Furthermore, leader singer Thomas Skora belts out his lyrics with such passion that the raging, cracking quality of his voice does nothing but add to the overall effect of the music’s spirit. Some songs are stronger than others — this is a band that’s certainly still coming into their own, and a few of the tracks sound a bit amateurish. However, the stronger tracks showcase some serious promise. The album’s opener, “Vamps in the Valley” showcases Skora’s killer vocals along with layers of banjo and harmonica.
This is a band to watch, to be certain.