Friday, 10 February 2012

The Proposition announce debut album...

Artist: The Proposition
Album: King Snake, Devil Shake
Label: Cowboy Town Records Launch: Monday March 26th 2012

“The Proposition combine authentic old-timey Americana with a roughly hewn, melody rich acoustic roots.” R2

Some of the most exciting discoveries in ‘pop’ of recent years have come from the rootsier end of the spectrum. Acts like Seasick Steve and Fisherman’s Friends proved that authentic content and unfussy presentation can have broad appeal. And both acts proved that grizzled features are no barrier to success.

The Proposition’s debut album King Snake, Devil Shake is another reminder that no amount of processed pop can beat stirringly memorable songs and charismatic performance, by artists who have ‘lived a life’.

It’s in the life-lived authenticity of The Proposition themselves that the magic of King Snake, Devil Shake lies. Because The Proposition write and sing from a compellingly honest adult perspective.

King Snake, Devil Shake is full of youthful energy and musical vim (as are The Proposition’s thrilling live performances). But the album’s lyrical themes are those of men who have themselves raised families to adulthood and who have battled as only 50-somethings can have done with love, faith, money, regret, death, and in all the other messy arenas of the human condition.

It’s tough to pigeonhole The Proposition. Arguably they are a ‘folk’ group, if only in the sense that their instrumentation is largely acoustic (acoustic guitars, banjos, slide guitar, mandolin, drums, and a smattering of bass). And they might be considered a ‘country’ band. They have heartbreak and honesty in common with the best country music. But they are a thousand miles from purist folk or country, or from the introspective singer-songwriter approach. This is a band of storytellers rather than confessors. One working title for the album was Collected Short Stories.

And whilst the music carrying the stories is deceptively simple in construction, it is big and muscular in presence and impact, especially when you consider The Proposition is an acoustic trio. The Proposition’s live performances owe much more to the celebratory energy of rock artists like Springsteen or The Hold Steady and the fearless swagger of the likes of Steve Earle or Johnny Cash than to youthful sensitivities or to any kind of folk conventions.

Perhaps the closest comparisons musically are the USA’s Avett Brothers and Felice Brothers, but for the very clear ‘Englishness’ of The Proposition’s aesthetic.

In one sense King Snake, Devil Shake has been three years in the making (the time The Proposition has been performing as a trio) but its gestation period is really closer to two decades. Singer/guitarist Simon Middleton, drummer/slide-guitarist Steve Clark and bassist/banjitarist Nigel Orme have been performing together in varied line-ups and genres since the end of the 1980s. Their long musical apprenticeship has seen them play support slots for artists as different as Jools Holland, Rev. Peyton and His Big Damn Band, and even (bizarrely) Tony Hadley.

King Snake, Devil Shake was produced by Nick Brine at the legendary Rockfield Studios and at Leeders Farm in Norfolk. Brine (who has produced Seasick Steve, K T Tunstall, Teenage Fanclub and The Darkness), has captured the clattering harmony-rich energy of the The Proposition throughout the 13 track album, as well as their ability to shift dynamic from song to song.

Opening with the rockabilly rumble of Welcome To the Promised Land, the album shifts gear to the timeless redemption-seeking Hank-meets-Dylan Mr Foolish. Trad-folk barroom stomp Nobody’s Fool is a celebration of infidelity, and Lovers’ Leap is an old-timey short story of mariticide set to a thundering rhythm.

Resurrection Day evokes a primitive rural congregation. Summer Lightning is a classic country teen-romance story with a very adult outcome. Europa I Still Love You is a thriller-road-movie in a four-minute waltz-time ballad, shifting setting from Montmartre to St. Petersburg and from Barcelona to Budapest.

And that’s just half the album! Apart from any other of its virtues, this is a great genre-busting ‘pop’ record, rich with melodies, steering-wheel-slapping rhythm, slide guitar hooks and giant sing-along choruses.

The band’s 2011 EP Dirt Tracks gave a small group of in-the-know fans a taste of The Proposition as a recording act. Roots media responded enthusiastically, and the EP won glowing reviews in Maverick, R2, Blues Matters, Folk & Roots, Country Music File and beyond.

Put aside expectations of what mould a folk/country/rock band should fit, and open your ears to The Proposition: a crossover act like no other on the scene. In 2012, The Proposition’s debut album King Snake, Devil Shake might be about to create the year’s most surprising and original pop-stars.

Thought provoking, foot stomping, mouth licking good.” BLUES MATTERS

“Cleverly written lyrics and memorable melodies” MAVERICK

“Rough-hewn Americana with an authentic rolling energy” FOLK AND ROOTS

“A trio of supreme raconteurs. Grit, wit and loads of fun.” COUNTRY ROUTES

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