After such a long wait and much anticipation the debut Feral Mouth album has finally been completed and released. Nelson’s County is a beautiful and professional affair, well-packaged with old school liner notes, chords, doodles, and lyrics in the accompanying booklet.
Opening gloriously and energetically with the title track, just as they have been doing of late in their live shows, it’s the perfect attention-grabbing way to start. Proud of their roots and their influences Nelson’s County is an exciting way to open.
I believe the reason this album took so long to appear was due to finding a recording technique and sound that all the band were happy, and wisely they held off until they got the sound right. Now that it has happened it seems quite obvious that the answer was in recording live on analogue equipment at Old School Studios, as evidenced in the sound when listening. It’s just so ‘Feral Mouth’ and captures the energy of their gigs.
Despite playing their Harlequin set at the weekend straight after gigs on the other side of the country, the one immediately preceding it being Boomtown, and being minus Luke (Tom standing in on bass) they still sounded amazingly fresh and tight. Perhaps they were rejoicing in being back in Nelson’s County! The recruitment of Noel on dobro and harmonica has been a master stroke and is the final piece in the puzzle, the piece that we never realised was missing until he joined. The playing on Being Herd is fantastic. The sound is full and complete now and his inclusion in the band is so welcome and fitting, they have never sounded better. It was a belter of a gig with that special Harlequin vibe and atmosphere in the big tent.
The album has a few live set favourites that we will all know (Hundred Kinds of Lonely, Contentment, the brilliant Tatters, Contradiction etc) plus a cover of Towne’s White Freightliner and Solko’s December, as well as a number of newer tracks.
I think recording live was the perfect way for them to be in the studio, they all sound comfortable and it does capture their live feel. I am pleased too that like the Vagaband they also included the lyrics.
On Saturday they return to Norwich at the end of their album launch tour to play at the Norwich Arts Centre which promises to be a triumphant and celebratory occasion, and if their last gig there is anything to go by it could well sell out too so try and get an advance ticket.
The band are justifiably proud of this album, and after the first listen I was proud of them too … after the opening track in fact. It was worth the wait.
words and photos, richard shashamane 2014