The long-awaited Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners debut album is finally here, 3 years after The Wildhearts main man formed the country-tinged project with guitarist Neil Ivison and bassist Nick Lyndon of Stone Mountain Sinners. Picking up drummer Shane Dixon along the way, the band retreated to Mwnci studios in the heart of West Wales with Dave Draper at the helm and recorded an album that finally sees the light of day, 2 years after it was mixed.
With a release on Little Steven’s Wicked Cool Records label, the home of RPM faves such as Jesse Malin, Ryan Hamilton and Prima Donna, we expect very good things from Ginger and his boys.
This self-titled, debut long player is a 10-track affair that takes a trip down a dusty, country road, taking in a choice cover or two along the way. Opening track and first single ‘Wasted Times’ is a perfect introduction to the good time, southern rock n’ roll that The Sinners deliver. There are catchy melodies aplenty, lush harmonies for miles and a killer chorus that refuses to leave your brain. It instantly sounds like an old time classic. You wanted the boys to start big? Well, they delivered!
It seems trading his Les Paul for a Telecaster and sharing lead vocals was exactly the therapy Ginger needed after the headfuck that The Wildhearts has been for him the past few years. There’s a sense of camaraderie here, and the immediate reaction I get from this album is how remarkably upbeat, positive and fun it is. I mean, 3 songs into this album there is a tune called ‘Footprints In The Sand’ that is so uplifting it gave me goosebumps by the first chorus. I presumed it was a cover, but it’s not. With Neil taking lead vocals over dampened chords, it sounds like a classic Springsteen track, or a John Cougar Mellencamp tune, but it’s not. With a rousing, building chorus over ringing chords, you will swear you know it already. It’s the sort of anthemic, Americana I adore, and I think you will too.
‘Work In Progress’ has more southern boogie than a Georgia Satellites album, but with that certain Ginger trademark song structure. And just when you think you have the song sussed, in comes some crazy-ass female vocals that take us into Black Oak Arkansas territory. But who is the mysterious Ruby Starr impersonator? We need to know.
With no press blurb or details I have no idea who writes what regarding the original tunes, but Wildheart and Ivison wear their influences on their sleeves and covers-wise they give us a couple of classic album tracks you may or may not be aware of. The band tackle the aforementioned Georgia Satellites ‘Six Years Gone’. The faithful reworking is perfectly executed and they make it their own. But with Neil taking lead vocals again, Status Quo’s ‘Dirty Water’ is turned into the euphoric, country rock classic you never knew you needed in your life.
Elsewhere, the beautiful, acoustic balladry of ‘Breakout’ is up there with some of the frontman’s finest reflective moments. The likes of ‘If You Find Yourself In London Town’ and ‘Geordie In Wonderland’ come to mind. Full of lush harmonies and a sense of longing and regret that could well bring a tear to your eye by the end.
They finish the album with a tongue-in-cheek comedy tune that nods its head to The Wurzels. There’s a ‘live in the studio’ feel that sees all the albums’ singers take a verse. With a great gang vocal sing-a-long, and a fade out to raucous clapping and cheering, it seems the perfect way for The Sinners to bow out.
With a good deal of country twang, a whole heap of glorious melody and an overall sense of fun, Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners have delivered a debut album that is a much-needed ray of sunshine in these strange and dark times. Guaranteed to leave a smile on your face and a sense of contentment within, this album is proof that music is the greatest mood changer out there.
With the follow-up album already recorded and the band touring in October, it seems the future of the UK Americana/roots music scene is firmly in their hands.
Author: Ben Hughes