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ALBUM REVIEW: The Remedy Club – ‘True Hand True Heart’

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The Remedy Club are Irish husband and wife duo KJ McEvoy and Aileen Mythen who have just released their second album True Hand True Heart. From start to finish it is a complete belter. What stands out most is their turbo-charged blast of modern country with some songs that would fill a stadium. Yet they haven’t forsaken their country/Americana harmonies and intelligent writing. Both and the sensitive ballads are still there but True Hand True Heart adds a new dimension to the Remedy Club’s already impressive sweep of country, roots, rock and a sprinkling of pop. Mythen’s voice with her hints of Kacey Musgraves, Ashley McBryde, Hannah Aldridge or, going back a bit, Highway 101’s Paulette Carlson, knows no boundaries and McEvoy is a first-rate guitarist. There are no ‘second album’ doubts here, far from it, True Hand True Heart deserves to propel The Remedy Club in front of a much wider audience.

This ‘bigger sound’ that should draw in fans of a more contemporary, but high quality, country music comes from McEvoy and Mythen’s partnership with five time Grammy award winning producer Ray Kennedy who has worked with Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris. Though Kennedy produced their debut Lovers, Legends & Lost Causes this time they all completely immersed themselves in one place by recording the whole album in Nashville’s Room and Board studios. They were joined by an impressive line-up of musicians including Lex Price on bass, Lynn Williams on drums and Rodney Crowell’s multi instrumentalist, Rory Hoffman to make an album that just oozes the best of Music City.

Where to begin? In these very strange and fearful times we need some kind of distraction. In this reviewer’s estimation there is little more effective on that score than some uplifting sounds. Beginning with ’Sweet Symphony’ three of these new songs do just that. A thumping riff and drum beat with organ shimmering in behind feels like a gig opener too. Mythen and McEvoy harmonise at a lively tempo as “in the silence of my own sweet symphony” contrasts with all that’s going on in this piece of country rock that makes such a confident statement.

‘Reclaim’ has an anthemic feel. Reverberating chords frame Mythen’s soaring vocals that fly over the country border into rock. But of the three, ‘I Survived’ has the edge. At speed everything comes together. Again, a subdued vocal opening that surges into warp factor around McEvoy and the band at full electric power. This has single written all over it.

The Remedy Club still have much to offer through the thoughtful softer side that made such an impression on their debut. ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ sounds as if it should be one of the rockers. Instead, with a delicate pedal steel, “put me down for one more round/ let the good times roll” Mythen skips lightly back to old country twang. In a similar vein ‘Time Won’t Wait for Me’ is wistful muse on humanity’s compassion. ‘Taste of Gold’ features

Mythen and McEvoy duetting then alternating in the finest country traditions. The song’s instrumentation is as kind as its lyric, “here we are, never far away from love”.

In between the rousing foot stompers and contemplation lies an intriguing sense of experimentation. The title track is a honky tonk two-step that breaks out into some fine electric picking around the firm beat. This feels more rootsy country whereas McEvoy’s opening to ‘Fire and Gasoline’, “whiskey’s got me passed out on the floor/ looks like we’ve got a situation” then takes another turn towards a more layered country rock.

To slice True Hand True Heart neatly into three parts is far too simplistic but it does serve to demonstrate the versatility of this duo’s collaboration with producer and band. There is no doubt that the title aptly describes their collective effort to stake The Remedy Club’s rightful position among today’s top country roots artists. As with so many other artists The Remedy Club have had to cancel the tour to launch the album but just think what a great show it will be when we do see them. Hang in there, Aileen and KJ.

Lyndon Bolton

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