UK band THE MUSTANGS have been around since 2001, with a productive career so far seeing them getting some nice recognition from the UK blues scene along the way. They’ve been an active live unit all along I understand, and so far they have ten albums to their name, of which 8 are studio productions if my notes are correct. “Just Passing Through” is the most recent of these, and appeared in the spring of 2017.
While I see the band have their fair share of praise from the blues environment, I don’t really hear nor get too much of a blues feeling from this album. There are traces and remnants, a couple of tracks are closer tied in with blues as I experience it, and there’s also a token song that resides somewhere in the chain gang/work/negro spirituals tradition that points back to the origins of the good, ol’ blues. But more than anything else I experience this production as one that should be filed closer to the regions of Americana and contemporary Country.
While the blues elements do appear here and there, it is the plucked, wandering guitars and melancholic tendencies of Country and the less defined country tinged elements of Americana that dominates this production as I experience it. With liberal amounts of gentle harmonica details as a recurring feature, and taking this material out towards country rock territories on one hand and towards blues on the other, with a few token cuts that to my mind sounds like Americana filtered through a 60’s UK pop/rock filter to boot. Music often more elegant than vibrant, but where the lead vocals and rhythm department in particular excel in creating subtle but effective tension inducing and mood enhancing details and nuances. Personally I’d probably opt for the somewhat darker and arguably rockabilly-tinged Vinegar Fly as a favorite cut, although the one that impressed me most was the short and bittersweet mainly vocal cut Cry No More, cue the earlier described chain gang reference.
Wile I guess many blues fans will appreciate the charms of this album, I rather suspect that the key audience for this particular album would be those fond of Americana of the more eclectic variety, as well as those with a general fascination for contemporary Country music of the kind that shies away from both the more commonly explored Nashville traditions of that genre of music as well as generic pop country. Contemporary, honest Country music of the kind not tailor made for FM radio play if you like.
My rating: 7/10
One Way Ticket / Hiding from the Rain / Fingerprints / Beautiful Sleeper / Just the Way It Is / Because It’s Time / Cry No More / Saturday Night / What Lies Within / Vinegar Fly / Save My Soul / From Somewhere to Nowhere / How Short the Stay