A change in direction from London-based Treetop Flyers.
Listening to Treetop Flyers’ latest album ‘Old Habits’ stirred up the old argument about what constitutes Americana. If you consider that an album that mixes sixties soul with seventies funk, sha la las with close harmonies, Mick Hucknall with Stevie Winwood and funky saxophones with soulful vocals, then maybe it is – but then again maybe it ain’t! However, it is released on Loose the British home of Americana with the likes of Courtney Marie Andrews, The Handsome Family and Danny & The Champions Of The World amongst others on its roster of artists so maybe it is?
‘Old Habits’ is the fourth album from the London band which consists of Reid Morrison, he of the soulful vocals and acoustic guitar, Laurie Sherman on lead guitars, Sam Beer on keyboards and backing vocals, Ned Crowther on bass and backing vocals, Rupert Shreeve on drums andGeoff Widdowson on saxophone and backing vocals. There are also guest appearances from Richard Coulson on piano, Merydith Dickson saxophone and David Beaucham on congas. Produced, engineered and mixed by Sherman at the band’s Cube Studio in Stoke Newington, the ten tracks have an excellent sound although at times Morrison’s vocals are a little low in the mix.
Morrison has a superb soulful and distinctive voice and the songs are all very melodic. At times on tracks like ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Golden Hour’ there’s an almost gospel feel with a bit of sixties soul mixed in and the whole album sounds as it was recorded in the southern states rather than in a northern district of London. There are also quieter, more gentle songs like ‘Castlewood Road’ which isn’t too far from the studio where the song was recorded, ‘River’ and the title track. There are also more up-tempo tracks such as the stompy, fists in the air ‘100’, and the rocky ‘Cool Your Jets’ a flashback to the rocking seventies with the sound of revving motorcycles and an Andy Mackay (Roxy Music) like sax solo from Dickson.
As Morrison says, ‘I love Rod Stewart and I love the Faces. And Van Morrison is one of my heroes. So, we thought: why don’t we try and do something like that, a British take on rock’n’roll? Because previously we’ve been seen as Americana, Sixties, California, whatever – and those references I totally get – but there’s some amazing British rock’n’roll records that barely get talked about. So, let’s have that as our rough aim’.
All in all, ‘Old Habits’ is an enjoyable album from a band who have a big following built up over the years. It’s almost certainly not Americana but at the end of the day that’s just a label to file the album under and these days does that even matter?