Ten years since Scott Bondy and his band Verbena caught the eye of grunge legend Dave Grohl, who then produced their second album (the averagely received Into the Pink), an older and (perhaps) more mature Bondy has released his second album under the name A.A. Bondy, When the Devil’s Loose.
The segue from his original rock calling into folk is certainly a change for the better, but it seems that Bondy is destined to be buried at the bottom of the genre under the sheer weight of talent that already abounds in modern folk music. He is not bad, as such, but the wealth of artists who are producing great music now will simply drown an attempt as uninspiring as this.
The album does begin promisingly with the title track which, although not an obvious opener, is a solid, solemn song with a traditionally pleasing mournful Americana air and an apparent reference to the Stones’ ‘Street Fighting Man’ (“the march of Georgian feet down the highway”). However things don’t really progress from this kick-off point – the next track, ‘Mightiest of Guns’ is a soothing highlight, but the remainder tends to fade into background music.
These to one side, there are no songs that really leap out and grab your attention again, either through their excitement, or their beauty, or their emotion. Most of the tracks continue the heart-slowing tempo and drudgery set up at the start; they are well-crafted to the point of formulaic, thought-out, measured and a little bit dull. It is an album that is easy to play and to forget about, until you suddenly find your stereo silent and yourself unmoved, and you think, “was that it?”.
Words: Robbie Hayward