Some Roots-infused Americana, and a whole lot more on the third album from British seven piece, Fine Lines.
Release Date: 25th October 2021
Label: Parade Recordings
Format: CD / digital
A band new to us here, and one that’s been highly productive since their formation in 2016, kicked started by singer songwriter David Boardman. Two albums under their belt, Hour Of Need from 2017and Gaslight Roses two years later, we’ve happened upon them (thanks Damian!) now they’re fully formed, fledged and flying.
And while any mention of American country roots might see mass flyposting of Dylan/The Band/Gram Parsons tags and comparisons, there’s much more to Fine Lines than this. From behind the comfort of the drum stool, broadcaster and Bolton lad Mark Radcliffe applies his literally skills to lyric writing to accompany the Boardman tunes and as it turns out, it’s quite a potent little partnership.
Indeed a partnership that’s just at the head of a tight little band and album that certainly matches the anticipation and expectation. That other vital combination so crucial to the signature sound, the pedal steel and shimmering organ, soon step up to the mark, leading from the front and with the relaxed Boardman vocal delivery, there’s a strong and authentic vibe. Zoe Blyth also gets in an early lead vocal with the gospel tinge of Del Rio while the finely brushed washes on the cymbals on First Light offer up a peaceful easy feeling of a sleepy indulgence. The “yearning for places I’ll never go” suggesting the familiar feeling of thoughtful reflection, pondering and mulling over your thoughts as day breaks.
Yes, there are frequent hints of the American icons of the genre such as (the/The) Eagles while the rockier moments (the opening few seconds even) fill the gap left by the late great Tom Petty. The latter most apparent initially on The Island, just missing the Petty drawl but with the band filling in more than adequately as Heartbreaker subs (tonight Matthew, Gary O’Brien is Benmont Tench…) fly the country rock flag proudly. Fave track? Certainly could be.
Plenty of mournful thoughts of trying times and the rials and tribulations of life, abide on this emotional rollercoaster of an album and is there any instrument that conveys the feeling better than the pedal steel and fiddle? They’re balanced with some shots of more upbeat and jaunty swingers and swayers. Long Way To Fall ups the tempo amongst the Deadbeat Lullabies – exercising some caution with glimpses of looking on the bright side – and The Lie Of The Land mid tempo rocks along with a twangy guitar line standing proud.
The upshot is that the heartstring tuggers win out at the end of the day. As they should really. It goes with the territory. There’s not even a happy ending as New Year’s Eve plays us out with a departure and start of a new life as an old year ends. Seeing out the past, new starts and new beginnings and all that, so maybe there’s a glimemr of light at the end of the tunnel.
On Deadbeat Lullabies, Fine Lines do what the best Americana country music does. Songs which are shot from the hip, straight out of the badlands of North West England and the Cheshire plains. You’d never be able to tell.
Here’s Del Rio from the album: