Montana-based country/western band Sam Platts & The Plainsmen release their latest LP ‘West Side’ today (December 2nd.)
Led by husband-and-wife duo Sam and Lilly Platts — whose roots go back five generations as homesteaders in the WY/MT/ID region — the band’s sound is very much in the Colter Wall realm of richly-authentic “prairie songwriting”. Sonically, Sam’s baritone vocal delivery and clever wordplay meld seamlessly with upright bass, Lilly’s fiddle, and razor-sharp archtop guitar work. It’s a true Western swing record in the spirit of Bob Wills; brought into a modern light by Platts & co.
Tracked live over the course of just a few days in an effort to capture an energy similar to early recordings in the genre ‘West Side’ evokes poetic, story-song imagery and intentional lack of traditional percussion — archtop guitar and upright bass carry the backbeat throughout the record, complemented by razor-sharp fiddle work and Sam’s rich baritone vocal delivery. Western swing is known for its infectious rhythms and catchy melodies blended with clever wordplay, and The Plainsmen are masters of the craft.
Lyrically, the album paints a picture of the American west that is both beautiful and gritty. Sam’s songwriting draws on his experiences growing up in small-town Wyoming and a veritable lifetime on the road performing music adjacent to the area’s ranching economy. From the Guthrie-esque working class anthem “If You Haven’t Met The Wolf” to the impressionistic yet sobering realities of “Canadian Line” and the album’s title track, these songs are sure to resonate with anyone who has ever yearned for — or lived within — the wide open spaces of the west. Public domain tunes “Whoopee Ti Yi Yo” and “Saint James Infirmary Blues” also appear on the record, nodding to the ever-present importance of keeping the oral tradition alive in Western music.