VOLK “Boutique Western Swing Compositions” review

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VOLK Boutique Western Swing Compositions
http://livevolk.com/index.html

Looking into bands before you listen to them can be an art form all unto itself–learning where they come from, poring over their album artwork, reading their own assertions of their genre, and so on, can shape your opinion of their sound even before a single note reaches your ears. The question then becomes, do you want to spoil yourself of the surprise of what you’re about to hear, or is figuring it out all part of the fun?

When it comes to two-piece band VOLK, I went through all of these hoops–intentionally–before getting to their music, and it took me on a wild ride. Their homebase of Nashville pulled up preconceived ideas of the kind of music that comes from that area, and titling their EP Boutique Western Swing Compositions solidified this and threw me off at the same time.

The opening track, “Simple Western Song,” hits with so many genre styles in the same song it is both refreshing and familiar to the ears. A dry, reverbed guitar line and crooning female vocal certainly brings you to this idea of a “simple western song;” but thudding drumbeats soon join in and everything gets a little louder, and you begin to realize that what awaits you on this album are more than just simple western songs.

VOLK describes themselves as “Gothic Western Rock.” I cautioned myself against describing them as simply Rockabilly, although it cannot be denied that they cozy up to the genre’s blend of western influences combined with vintage guitar and vocal sounds. But, there’s more to this band than just polka-dot pencil skirts and songs about cars.

With artist influences such as Big Mama Thornton all the way to Ennio Morricone, their four-song EP saddles you up in the harsh world of the Wild West before the band pulls up in their hot rod and tells you to get in–but doesn’t tell you where you’re going.

Boutique Western Swing Compositions may, in hindsight, best be experienced with no roadmap, no idea of where you’re going to end up. If the journey makes the destination, just be prepared to cross through many musical styles on the way there, and you will not be disappointed.

The EP can be found on their website (livevolk.com). They are currently on tour through May, and info on dates and venues can be found through their Facebook.

–Mary Redstone

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