As soon as Loved Wild Lost, the second full-length record from Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, fires up, it sounds reassuringly familiar. As Bluhm bounces across the chorus of opener ‘Only Always’, singing “You’re as bright as a stone, shining in the moonlight” as the guitars echo behind her, you feel like you’ve known this one for years. It doesn’t sound stale, but like a well-crafted country-folk tune from the vaults of the greats. There is a great care and thoughtfulness in every chord and note, painting a complete picture.
That craftsmanship is a constant throughout the record as this band show off their chops. ‘Waiting On Love’ plays with harmonies and echoing backing vocals as Bluhm waits for her great love to come along. On ‘Mr Saturday Night’ is twangy, country as Bluhm describes a good-time guy at the bar, who is ‘everybody’s Saturday night’ and ‘not real picky about the company [he] keeps’. Closer ‘Heavy Hey Ya’ brings in a gospel flavour, scratching at the heels of the likes of Alison Krauss. It’s a beautiful way to end it.
Given the rate that this band push out new music – mostly via social media – it’s almost a surprise that this is only their second record. Their punishing touring schedule appears to have served them well as they sound as tight as a band can be, with no shortage of new ideas, and you can already hear how well this record will translate on the road.
Words: Stevie Pearce