The Long Dead Sevens Waltz into Americana
Here are The Long Dead Sevens, the brainchild of songwriters Paul J. Rogers and Nick Cliff, with their debut album The White Waltz and Other Stories, essentially a collection of Wild West ballads dripping with atmosphere. Their use of haunting organs and heavy reverb is commendable, and probably the best thing they have done with their debut.
Lyrically, they are nothing more than abysmal. They seem to have picked up “The Big Book of Westerns” and chosen the most default and overused characters possible. This could intentional in order to generate some starting ground between potential fans and the music. Aside from the stock Western characters and fairly terrible rhymes (siesta and fiesta is a problem in itself), it is possible to find their brand of Americana entertaining.
They don’t seem to be trying especially hard with this release, though it wouldn’t be unrealistic, if their lyrical ability were to develop, to expect them to evolve into a modern Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds over the course of their musical career.
Musically, this album is promising. It shows a masterful use of modulation and this is effectively utilized to create brilliant soundscapes that invoke a feeling of Wild West-era America. The Long Dead Sevens reinforce the point Nick Cave has been making for years: You don’t have to be American to produce a typically American sound. It gives them an angle from which to develop a following, and they will.
The band seem to have a conflict with quality. Where the music is good, the lyrics definitely need some work to become relevant and even comprehensible. “Mother’s Song,” which offsets a bluegrass banjo and fiddle combination with vocals that seem irritated, aims at the mother of a condemned criminal, while “Riversong (He Set Me Free)” has a feel of Nick Cave’s later work smothered by religious reference and is a clear case of a song that needs much more work before it can be seen as complete.
For a British band to produce music that is so American should alienate them from their listeners, but it doesn’t. The Long Dead Sevens have somehow managed to attract an American audience with their debut despite hailing from the other side of the Atlantic. They play Americana with a heavy dosage of sedatives and misery, and they do it well.