Sunday, 14 September 2014

BILLY THE KID - ALBUM REVIEW

Billy The Kid - Horseshoes and Hand Grenades (Xtra Mile Recordings) 
Billy The Kid - Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

On this humble blog I have covered a huge number of Canadian artists. More than any other country apart from the UK, in fact, but from all of those artists it is Billy The Kid, a Vancouverite, who is top of the pile (closely followed by the Dirty Nil, since you asked). Billy The Kid is actually Billy Pettinger, a woman with talent, passion and a wry sense of humour who is currently touring her home country and the USA with her namesake and likely hero, Billy Bragg. This, Billy's fourth album, opens with 'Phone Bills' which hits you straight between the eyes without warning and immediately you're on a rollercoaster of triumphant melodies perfectly blended with reflective lyrics. 'Riverbank' takes things slightly slower like a Springsteen power ballad before 'The Satellites + I' fuses a folk melody with some pop-rock chords and a voice that could be one of the Bangles but with more sincerity.

It is the passion and, at times, anger with which Pettinger delivers her songs that puts her a cut above the rest and the added slickness of the musical backing makes for something pretty special. 'Science' is up next with a sweet'n'sour, Indigo Girls-esque tone while 'The Quarry' is somewhere between the quiet determination of Peggy Seeger and the mysterious qualities of Laura Marling which is a beautiful place to be. The wonderfully titled 'This Sure As Hell Ain't My Life' has a real end of the night in a dive bar feel to it as the guitars slither around the whiskey soaked bar to rouse the drunk in the corner and make him or her reconsider their life choices. Pettinger's lone voice at the beginning of 'Chelsea Rose' are stop-you-in-your-tracks beautiful and the simple acoustic riff that soon joins in only serves to emphasise that beauty. Before you get too comfortable, though, the ramshackle rock'n'punk of 'Back To You' rolls in reminding me of label mates Crazy Arm mixed with a non-descript American road trip movie from the late 80s.

There is a steam train shuffle to the drums on 'Virginia' are wonderful subtle but provide the perfect foil for the gently bouncing guitars before 'Lord Let Me' bounces in to view all punk spirit, folk heart and rock'n'roll energy. As the album starts to wind up we are treated to the delicately fragile 'Thoroughfare' which leads in to the Johnny Cash inspired 'Walkin' Round The Hotel Blues' complete with some wailing harmonica and a sense of yearning for being at home. Album number four closes with 'Young + On Fire' which has elements of Bryan Adams singing with Kings Of Leon and builds to a lump-in-the-throat inducing climax, not through power or overblown instrumentation but through raw, honest emotion. Billy The Kid is enormously talented and has paid her dues so I think her time is now, her place is here and her direction is up.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/BillyTheKid?fref=ts

Live Dates:

15th September - Music Box Supper Club, Cleveland
17th September - City Winery, New York
18th September - City Winery, New York
19th September - Suffolk Theatre, Riverhead
20th September - Opera House, Bellow Falls
22nd September - Port City Music Hall, Portland
23rd September - The Playhouse, Fredericton
24th September - PEI Brewing Co., Charlottestown
25th September - NS Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, Halifax

27th September - Cochrane United Church, St John's

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