Sometimes the path of least resistance is the most effective. So whilst many acoustic gunslingers approach the idea of making an album with the wide-eyed joy of the proverbial kid in the allegorical musical sweet shop, The Bad Cowboys revel in a simpler approach. With tunes that are melodically pleasing, lilting and joyously upbeat and lyrics that express intelligently elegant thoughts through poetically eloquent turns of phrase, they tick a lot of boxes with very few musical tools.
So is there anywhere new to go with just two guitars, two voices and the occasional extra musical detail? Yes, yes and unequivocally yes. Like all the best songwriters The Bad Cowboys prove that it isn’t about how clever, how showy or how revolutionary your songs are, it is about getting the rudimentary details right in the fist place. The right chord progressions, the right use of space, knowing what to leave out more than concentrating on what to leave in. This they get spot on which makes their songs not simple but concise. And wonderfully so.
But there is a secret weapon at work and it grows on you slowly as you make your way through the album. First you raise an eyebrow, find yourself holding back a wry smile, then smirking, stifling a laugh and before you know it you have succumbed to the realisation that these guys write hilarious songs. Anyone who has spent any time around the live music scene will demand that “Your Band”, a wonderfully snarky sneer at a certain type of musician, be played in music college at the start of every lesson. Similarly anyone who grew up in small town England will identify with “Street,” a nostalgic post-mortem of their own formative rural years.
Musically they revel in the sort of country music that only us Brits can make, a more reserved; sarcastic and aridly witty take on the genre, or in their case Country and Southwestern. Hmm…maybe that could become a thing.
Very often bands tagged with the humorous badge are neither particularly funny nor very musically adept. The Bad Cowboys are that rare thing, an act whose music is great enough to stand up for itself and lyrics that are sideswiping social commentary in their own right. Put the two halves together and you have something not far short of brilliant.