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You Kiss By The Book: Family Tree
Addiction to narrative binds irish alt country gem
Greg McAteer, 13 Sep 2012
Alt. country is one of the most useless labels you’ll come across, covering everything from Wilco at one end of the spectrum to The Handsome Family at the other. If anything acts as a glue for the raggle-taggle renegades who ride together under this banner, it’s a fascination with storytelling and an addiction to narrative.
Their name borrowed from Shakespeare, there was always a good chance that You Kiss By The Book would adhere to that creed and Family Tree doesn’t disappoint, with lyrics that dart around the senses, building delicate, sometimes wilfully vague pictures that hang loosely around Simon Dowling’s plaintive vocals. Opener ‘Railroad’, closer ‘When We Got To The Border’ and the title track all circle the same themes of love and responsibility and whether the two can be – or need to be – reconciled. Elsewhere ‘Transport’ and ‘1748’ are classic ‘let’s get out of here’ country songs.
This is You Kiss By The Book’s third line-up in as many albums. Clearly keeping an outfit like this together in Ireland has its challenges but rather than feeling like a pick-up band, this incarnation hangs together more intuitively than their predecessors. Family Tree has a gloriously relaxed sound, dripping with analogue heart as if it, rather than the band’s Californian debut, had been recorded overlooking the Pacific shore with the windows thrown open. Limited vinyl release available from Elastic Witch/Rage.