…It’s the name of a quite-alright band, too, actually.
Wilkinson Blades hails from Portland, Oregon, USA. And it turns out they’re not named after the shaving brand, as wholesomely comical as that would be. Led by lead vocalist and primary songwriter Steve Wilkinson – yeaahhhh! See, now it makes sense, as he leads the Blades (one wonders if, from a UK point of view, he’ll play for the football club Sheffield United FC, also known as The Blades). Kinda dorky maybe, but the feel-good rock ‘n’ blues ‘n’ country music speaks for itself in crushing that dorky assumption (how dare you) and replacing it with a sound that feels established; wise, and very aware of classic influences. The WBs are also made up of Johnny Huck on bass, Jon Beyers on drums, Grant Cumpston on guitar and backing vocals, and Rich Lander on keyboards, mandolin, and backing vocals.
This month will see the release of their debut album 4:00AM on Texas label Shiftone records. ‘No Exit’ is a true rock song full of authenticity, unabashedly soulful, but perfect for escaping to the road with. Coincidentally, Wilkinson actually wrote the song while on the road with previous Oregon band, Gravelpit, during a Rocky Mountain region tour. The strength of the song’s country twang isn’t misplaced, and rather, shares the send of homeliness that exudes from the minimal beauty of the lyrics: “Destiny is here/The fortune that it brings/I can shout a mile.”
While I really wanted to hold back on the Dandys comparison by sin of locative-laziness, I couldn’t help but think of their song Good Morning. It’s kind of like saying Elbow’s latest reminded me, in shades, of The Doves’ Melody Calls and Snowden.
Like a lot of songwriters I love, like Peter Broderick of Efterklang, Yann Tiersen and Levi Weaver, Steve Wilkinson played many of the instruments himself.
“I really wanted this to be a huge group project without the idea of a ‘band’ being behind it. From writing, to arranging, to all of the instruments, backup vocals, production and engineering, this was exactly what I set out to do when I decided to make this record,” Wilkinson proudly proclaims.
A gorgeous set of dreamy, roots-affected analog rock with a twinge of country – especially the song No-One (download below) is truly American – but in that most wistful of senses. It emits a certain unadulterated cool and a patience, without the politics.