First impressions are always interesting events and so it is with the first 30 seconds of Key of D, the opening salvo of We Humans. If I had been led to assume that this was just another collection of alt-country songs, that first snatch of music told me a lot about just how “alt” it was going to be as alien noises, distant lo-fi treatments, tabla drums, slightly self-deprecating lyrics and campfire busking vibes piled in. Okay, so forewarned is forearmed and as the xylophones (I think) of that first musical taste fade out, I headed into the album proper.
And what a fantastic revelation it was, especially for someone who has to write up slick Americana albums and rhinestone clad cod-country on a daily basis. This is country music as envisaged by drunken punks, wonky roots music that wouldn’t even be allowed anywhere near The South, let alone get across Nashville’s city limits, Woody Guthrie on speed, an album that even the most out there alt-country acts would call alternative. Tom Waits meets Otis Lee Crenshaw? Perhaps.
The stories are often silly and infectious, the lyrics profane and yet sometimes profound in a strange sort way, everyday philosophies for those just about scraping by. And yet for all its stripped back ways, just listen to the title track and you realise that when it wants to the album exudes a rough charm, the sort of beauty that poets and painters miss in their search to capture perfection, the allure of the everyday, the attraction of real life. It has the ability to point at the inane and see the humour, stand in the eye of the hurricane of a chaotic and broken society and raise a glass to it.
It is an album that out punks punk in its raw and DIY approach, is more poignant than the most heart-tugging country classics and is more real than any narrative you could find in the annals of folk music. It is raw, rough and ragged, is knowingly broken, botched and bungled but heartfelt, beautifully honest and honestly beautiful. Just like the everyday people in its songs.
To listen to, and of course buy, the album please go HERE