‘Hands In The Dirt’ is the second long-player from North Carolina’s The Resonant Rogues.
Much like their first offering ‘Here And Gone Again’, the album is full of the vibrant mix of Americana, Gypsy jazz and country blues we’ve come to expect from the band’s songwriting duo of Sparrow and Keith Smith.
Opening with the banjo-driven ‘Muddy River’, the listener is taken on a journey through an ever-changing landscape where the river is a metaphor for the passing of time.
Watch it go. Now it’s gone. Watch it flow on and on. Nothing left but a song. Watch it go. Now it’s gone.
In a similar vein, ‘Foggy Day’ and ‘Am I Right’ also show an awareness of the passing of places and friendships cleverly delivered in an upbeat fashion utilising the band’s world music influences mixed with swing and all the time blended with Sparrow’s whirlwind accordion playing.
A return to the earth and setting down of roots is explored in ‘Hands In The Dirt’. After the journey of the first few tracks on the record, this shows a longing to settle and with a hymn-like intro, has an almost spiritual feel to it.
As on their previous record, The Resonant Rouges prove they are a tight ensemble. Sparrow’s accordion blends and mixes with, and plays off Drayton Aldridge’s fiddle, while her vocals meld seamlessly with Keith Smith’s.
The storming rhythm section of Craig Sandberg and Mattick Frick provides abundant swing to the album and guest saxophonist Ben Colvin almost breaks the listener’s heart with his solo on ‘Am I Right’.
‘FOMO Blues’ has a classic country feel to it and will no doubt be a crowd pleaser in live shows.
Given the band’s fondness for – and their influence by – the world music scene it doesn’t come as a surprise that they aren’t afraid to shy away from contemporary social issues on this record as ‘Can’t Come In’ clearly shows.
A very clever song that humanises the poor and displaced, who are currently and unfairly facing travel bans, all because they are forced to leave their homes due to war and persecution.
Oh please open up your gate, oh neighbour of mine. Though I’ve nothing left to give you but this rhyme. Ain’t got no place. We’re out here wandering the cold. Haven’t got a nickel or a dime.
‘Hands In The Dirt’ is an album full of highlights that engages and delights in equal measures. The band has found a niche sound that makes many types of music accessible yet not overly commercial and with the strong songwriting duo of Sparrow and Keith Smith in charge, then the future is bright for this bunch of lovable rogues.