Photo credit: Martin Hills
Tennessee's The Young Republic are hosted this evening by End of the Road Records, whose label and festival are much loved round these parts. The band have rounded a corner after a chequered start that saw original members leaving and the remaining line-up consequently turning their back (barring two tracks tonight) on debut album '12 Tales From Winter City'.
Where before they came on like a Stateside Belle and Sebastian, recent second album 'Balletesque' sees a shift in their sound, and having lost the breezy orchestration, tonight shows they've sharpened focus as a sextet. Young they may be, but the music takes in a broad sweep of old-time folk, rock, country and blues, cooked up into a lean stew.
The new material bristles with driving guitars, a tight rhythm section, violin and viola, while Saporiti's eagle-eyed lyrics skewer the arcane in Americana. At times their no-nonsense approach to the material is a little dry, but the hard slide blues of 'Black Duck Blues' and the Walkmen fuzz of 'The Alchemist' are strong new tracks.
On this outing, they've abandoned their usual set-closer, a raucous cover of Dylan's 'Isis', apparently due to a lack of harmonicas. In its place, they have some fun in the encore with not one but two - oh yes - Beatles songs, 'Don't Let Me Down' and 'Hey Bulldog', before DON'T MOVE! return to the stage for a reprise of their Halloween night rendition of the Ghostbusters theme tune, complete with dance moves. It's a risky way to go out, but the audience are onside from the start and the band's spirit sees them pull it off, single-minded to the end.