Sadness and fun. Cheers and lamentations. Mountains and river banks. Roots music in essence.
Ok. Where and when does Appalachian folk become bluegrass? Is there a specific place in space and time? Does it matter? For this writer, the answers are don’t know, don’t know and no. Which brings us, through tortuous whataboutery, to Oyo (the native Iroquois word for Ohio). These Marietta folksy river larks have released a really enjoyable, fresh sounding fun collection of songs. Let’s delve in, shall we? Oyo are a collection of songwriters and musicians, including washboard and spoons players (hurrah!). Chief scribes Aaron Martin and Michael Bond also share lead vocal duties with Cole Adair. All recorded around the one mic, in an abandoned West Virginia church. You couldn’t write this stuff any better, could you? ‘My Kind’ opens the show, and it’s a rattling, happy-sad sawdust floor shuffle. As good first shots should, it sets the scene nicely. ‘Something’s Wrong’ follows – it picks up the pace a little. That weary voice is there again, resting between a drawl and a yodel (a drawdle?). The mandolin lead keeps up with the flying drums, but only just. ‘Roads’ is all about the leaving, via the sawdust dance floor, back to you (over and over again). A simple, super catchy chorus. Arguably the strongest track.
We’d feel short changed without a train song, surely? Fear not. ‘Santa Fe Train’ pulls up to the platform. It isn’t, though, the stomping, storming locomotion you’d expect. Ah, now it is – the second verse shovels on the coal, rattles the rails and lives up to the billing. ‘Don’t Be Gone Too Long’ is the shortest and fastest track – a rasping fiddle takes the lead. You’d need your slickest pair of boots on to cut a proverbial rug to this tune.
If you were looking for something new and different, the chances are you wouldn’t be scouring the reviews on Americana UK for obscure Ohioan roots bands . That’s something we all understand. But if you want to hear some good, full-hearted (obscure) roots music spun from the hills and valleys of Ohio , then give Oyo your time.