The Steady Swagger – S/T (Independent)
The Steady Swagger play a thrilling blend of piratical, frayed-round-the-edges folk-rock they call Whiskeybillie. Influenced by groups like Gogol Bordello, together with Tom Waits’ Island Records trilogy, the Montreal trio (Pi Sailin Cutler plays guitar and sings, Mat Lacombe sings as well and slaps a mean double bass, and Brigitte Desjardins plays drums) whips up a veritable storm on their sophomore collection.
With voices that could strip tar from the hull of a clipper, Cutler and Lacombe tell their tales with wide-eyed relish - while never sounding like they’re having less fun than the listener. Opening shanty “Barrels of Rhum” is a seafaring tale of drunken debauchery, where the scullery maid gets rogered in the jollies and peg-legged captains divvy out the plunder. “Mr. Johnson” tells a mysterious saga of one man’s multiple deaths, which asks considerably more questions than it answers, and “Shipwreck” explores the loneliness of a stranded mariner deposited on a deserted shore - eventually escaping on a raft cobbled together from sun-bleached bones.
Perhaps the track where the Whiskeybillie moniker is most relevant is “One More Shot”. Its mix of alcoholic, barroom references and classic rockabilly rhythms encourages wild drunken bopping, and when delivered live on stage in front of a fueled up audience, it would be easy to imagine the dancefloor flagging and sagging.