John Wheeler is best know as front man of internationally-known “Rockgrass” band Hayseed Dixie, with the album Un-American Gothic being his first solo outing away from the band. Written while on the road with the band in 2011 and from John’s own perspective as opposed to his character in Hayseed “Barley Scotch”
The album kicks off with a short count in by John for “Down At The Exit” and launches into a medium paced mainly acoustic track with some bass and a short electric lead break. Giving a good idea of what is in store on the rest of the album and that is some finely crafted tunes by this talented American word-smith. Doomsday Dance follows and has a more rocky feel with some lovely violin refrains from John driving the song onwards.
What follows next is John’s stunning musical response on finding out what David Cameron’s favourite song is the Jam’s “Eton Rifles“. John preforms a stark mainly piano based version of the song with some lovely haunting violin where the break would be in the original, simply the best interpretation I’ve heard of a Jam song by another artist. Listen to this Mr Cameron you might just want to change your mind on what your favourite song is! But John doesn’t have to rely on other artists work to produce a good song inspired by a conversation with Fairport Convention’s Dave Pegg about the banking crisis John wrote “Deeper In Debt” a title that I’m sure more than a few readers will sympathise with, with lines like
“Well I’m screwed I’m so screwed
By the time I pay my tax bill there’s nothing left for food Lord”
Other musical highlights include “Küss Mich Noch Einmal” with it’s German chorus, “Street Sweeper Lullaby” about a dis-satisfied Street sweeper who would rather burn the streets down than clean them and the song that started the whole ball rolling “Wondering Why I Ever Go Home” which eventually bloomed into Un-American Gothic. John is clearly enjoying being free of the writing constraints of Hayseed Dixie and getting to write from his own viewpoint for a change producing these finely crafted songs in the process. So if you eventually wear yourself out from too much head-banging an guitar shredding you could do a lot worse than put Mr Wheeler’s album on and chill out to some finely crafted songs and intelligent lyrics about the state of the world from his viewpoint.
Un-American Gothic is released on February the 4th through Cooking Vinyl and easily gets a 8.5/10 from this reviewer for it’s well crafted songs and intelligent social commentary.
- Down at the exit
- Doomsday Dance
- Eton Rifles
- Deeper In Debt
- Little Houses In a Row
- Küss Mich Noch Einmal
- Like I Want You
- Street Sweeper Lullaby
- Wondering Why I Ever Go Home
- Masters Of War
- Black Forest Skies
- Walk Between Raindrops