With the success of television series Nashville, young artists like Taylor Swift, and celebratory festival Country 2 Country, country music is definitely experiencing a ferocious revival in the UK.
Country/Americana duo Ward Thomas, comprised of 19 year old twins Catherine and Lizzy, are part of the army of artists helping to push the style on our shores; catching us in the grip of country fever.
Hailing from Hampshire, the duo’s debut EP Footnotes looks set to take the UK by storm. Hampshire and Country music may not be regular bedfellows, but these girls, brought up on a rural livestock farm and from a family line that boasts artists and authors amongst them, have been surrounded by the genre their entire lives, growing up on a mix of Carrie Underwood, Johnny Cash and Dixie Chicks.
Whilst country music primarily serves as an outlet to air grievances and express fierce emotions and weaknesses (some of the genre’s most famous works have been borne out of misery and violence), the familial duo appear to have brought a touch of untainted innocence to proceedings. With added direction from Nashville session musician Bobby Blazier, the four song EP features three original songs and a cover of Dougie MacLean’s Caledonia.
Opener The Good And The Right rips open the proverbial curtain to reveal two teenagers with passion aplenty, spitting pleasant words in your face in the nicest possible way. A song about our bittersweet relationship with technology, it’s the perfect barn storming showcase for the girls’ song writing and vocal talents.
The EP’s namesake highlights not only their beguiling harmonies, but a vocal blend that perhaps only tuned in twins can possess. Take That Train is a simplistic song with a catchy hook that can’t fail but raise a rueful smile. Harmonious melodies and wistful words (‘I’ll never be the same, since I took that train’) help to set the scene. The song perfectly encapsulates Ward Thomas’ easy way with storytelling, as the song riffs about love lost and a chance at redemption, inspired by Lizzy’s brief encounter with a complete stranger on a train who confided in her, recounting freely her whole life story.
One listen to the vocal cadences and close harmonies on Footnotes EP, and Nashville and Hampshire suddenly don’t seem all that far apart.