The Jamestown Brothers: Album Review

Album – Rebels, Rogues and Regrets

So, back to my now long list of grassroots artists after a week off to cover the big ones. The Jamestown Brothers are a folk/country/blues band from Somerset, England. Being a pretty large ensemble of 9 members and all boasting a different instrument, ranging from guitar to piano to fiddle and trombone and even a recorder, that alone caught my eye and got me excited about them, I loved a good old-school British folk band! The band have numerous great writeups so I wanted to hopefully throw my hat in the ring too, reviewing their debut album that was released last year, Rebels, Rogues and Regrets!

Cut Em Down already has me loving it, fading in on some drums and an awesome recorder melody from Sharon Eastwood, one that is no doubt going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day. The band soon join in behind it, the fiddle following the same melody while the rest play some great chords behind it to keep the rhythm. It’s really great and so massively folky. Colin Batchelor’s vocals soon come in for the verse, his voice suiting the style perfectly. Also, the harmonising between him and Sharon during the chorus is great, and makes the vocals even catchier. This would all be so fun to see live! The recorder solo after the second verse is equally fantastic, it being short but awesome and very fitting. All of this was great and easily got added to the 2020 playlist!

Rebel Rousing Few takes a very different approach to the first song, opening on Colin’s vocals over some beautiful piano chords and it is clear this will be a lot more emotional and ballady than the opener. Again, the male and female harmonies work so well here during the second half of the first verse and in the choruses. The song picks up the pace a little heading out of the first verse with the rest of the band joining in, another great recorder melody and this time the horns really shine through too, adding so much depth to the song. It still stays at a slightly slower pace than the first song, though, and definitely keeps its more sombre tone, fitting the lyrics perfectly. The chorus itself is another very catchy one, something easy to learn and sing along to live. The bridge after the second chorus is also great, the recorder and the horns following the simple but awesome guitar riff. We then get a final chorus to finish us off. Another great song!

If You Can’t Have a Drink is another one that starts off a little slower, opening on some beautiful string chords before a great little piano melody comes in over the top. Colin’s vocals come in, low and powerful and sings about the other typical folk topic: getting drunk. It’s a fun, more light-hearted song than the previous two, a nice change of pace. It also feels a little simpler than the previous two, there is less going on as everything seems to follow each other for the most part, making it feel almost like an old western bar band, which I imagine which was the exact intention. It goes without saying already at this point that the chorus is catchy, and some more awesome soloing, this time from the piano. Three for three on fantastic songs so far!

Salvation Alley opens on another slow acoustic guitar chord progression, some low strings coming in alongside the vocals. A powerful final couple of lines of the verse lead to the rest of the band coming in, the horns and recorder playing a similar riff to the strings alongside it while the drums and guitars keep a great rhythm. The vocals are again great, the lyrics being a fair bit darker than the previous song’s, but they are just as catchy, if not more so in terms of the chorus. The guitar solo in this is excellent too, maybe the best solo on the album so far; but then again, I may be a little bias! It fit the song perfectly though while still being technical and pretty rocky, actually. Again, we get a final chorus to finish and all of this was great, another one that easily made the playlist!

Please Let Me Go, opens much the same as the previous song, though instead of the great string melodies behind the vocals instead we get some great harmonies from Colin and Sharon. The chorus comes in pretty quick but it is massively catchy, adding in the rest of the band in behind the vocals, half of them following the same melody while the others play their own, but it all fits together so perfectly. The song then keeps the same slow-ish pace and feel throughout, being a great, emotional love/breakup song, a topic that appeals to just about everyone who listens and the lyrics really do well to convey that. The musicianship is so damn good between every member of the band that I’m finding myself repeating myself every song gushing over it, hence why I have tried to cut down a bit, otherwise this review would be far too long!

Whitley Girl is another good song. The chorus is damn good and entertaining and the whole ‘kiss my ass’ bit would surely go down a storm live. However, after so many fantastic songs, this one felt ever so slightly like a re-tread of some of the previous songs. It’s not exactly an issue at all; it’s an album, it’s going to happen. Especially considering, while I do very much enjoy this genre, it is not exactly my go to one, so while it is all great and massively impressive and enjoyable, after a while I am bound to get a little restless. It hasn’t stopped my enjoyment at all, I’m just running out of things to say!

Bring Your Moma Down seemed to hear what I was saying in the previous paragraph because right out of the gate it hits me with a slow rock riff, and I love it. In fact, it is such a good riff that I had to look up the song as it reminded me of something famous already and I was checking to see if it was a cover. It for some reason reminded me of Season of the Witch, but after finding it and listening to it I have no idea why, they don’t sound all that alike! The chorus is again another catchy one, the vocals coming over the awesome riff, and honestly that is such a highlight of the song that I am struggling to talk about anything else about. It’s a folk-rock song through and through, and a damn catchy one at that!

The One is another slow piano starter, much like Rebel Rousing Few. In fact, I would draw a lot of similarities between the two songs, both are similarly paced and full of emotion and fantastic lyrics. The one main difference is that this one stays slow and stripped back throughout, it doesn’t pick up the pace or the feel at all, it stays at the same level. It is a damn beautiful song, especially when everything swells heading into the final chorus, and was a really great listen. It’s nice to see this band can do slow songs just as well as their quicker, dance-along ones, they have a fantastic range for a folk band.

We finally reach the final song on the album now, Long Walk Home. It fittingly feels like a culmination of everything that has come before on the album. It is slow but also bouncy, has some great melodies from the strings and recorder, and has some damn catchy vocals, especially in the chorus. The harmonies are back for it too, adding an even bigger sound to the whole thing. It’s a very fitting end to a very good album, both in terms of both the quality and lyrics.

Overall: I really enjoyed this. I’ve seen and heard quite a lot of good folk music in my time, especially when I ended up somehow playing a few of them in my old band, but these guys are up there with some of the best I have heard. It perfectly encapsulates the genre while maintaining a catchy, almost radio-friendly feel to it all. I look forward to hearing more from these in the future and seriously hope I’ll be able to catch them live soon!

Overall: 8/10

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The review by musician, blogger & author – Joe Griffiths

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