As modern string bands continue to push towards modern innovation with the thrills of newgrass progression, a vocal group of purists still yearn for more of the traditional bluegrass stylings of yesteryear. Artists like Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and Willie Watson rising to fame are indicators of the fact that there’s still enough of a lust for twang to go around. Now, Texas’s own Free Willy quintet is stepping to the forefront with their own contemporary take on old-school vibes.
Their new record, Remember the Alamo, is a 12-track ode to the sort of roots tunes that acts as the bedrock of America’s music scene as a whole. Mixing a blend of country, folk, and bluegrass influences in an acoustic setting with a group of consummate musicians never grows old, and Free Willy, by and large, adopts the age-old adage of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” when taking on their music.
The songs presented on this record are unapologetically blue-collar, representing the working class layperson and giving them a voice in true Americana form. Whether they’re fun and rollicking ala the infectious instrumental jam ‘Sugar Baby’, reminiscing over family life on a tune like ‘It’s Good If You Like It’, or placing a finger on the heartbeat of the middle-class like on ‘Another Day Another Dollar’, Free Willy feels like they represent the people fairly well on their record. They’re entirely human while retaining loads of artistic integrity, impressing with their tight vocal harmonies and instrumentation around every turn.