As a matter of disclosure, though I don’t think it’s a secret, I am much closer Have Gun Will Travel than I am with most of the bands that get featured here on ninebullets. That said, I wanted to be the one who wrote about this cd. Not because I like the band but because I believe in the band. It also helps that I just so happen to love the album.
When I wrote about HGWT’s last album, Postcards From The Friendly City, I wrote; “HGWT is a very full band, with Matthew Burke singing and manning the acoustic, banjo, and harmonica duties, Daniel Burke on bass, JP Beaubien playing drums, Scott Anderson on electric guitars and lap steel, and Joshua Hernandez on viola.” Since the release of Postcards Joshua graduated college, stopped playing with the band and was replaced with mandolin player, Andy Brey on a full-time basis. On a personal level, I was worried how or if the sound would suffer with the loss of Josh. One could argue that the sound of Postcards was regularly anchored by the busyness of the viola and overcoming it’s absence was gonna be the bands first challenge. Well, guitarist Scott Anderson proved to be up to the task bringing his guitar playing more to the forefront and doing much more than filling the voids left by the viola. In the process the band’s overall sound starts to shift from sleepy beachtown folk outfit (I think I called it “delicate” once) to a rock and roll band in the vein of (another Florida boy) Tom Petty.
The second challenge the band faced was simply living up to the water mark Postcards left behind. We see bands all the time who have a good album or two in them and it seemed almost unfair to expect a third album to follow the upward trajectory from Casting Shadows to Postcards. Truthfully, and this is me speaking purely as a fan, I don’t know that HGWT could write a “better” album than Postcards and, in hindsight, I’m glad they didn’t try. Instead, they made a highly polished album stamped with that signature effortless feel that HGWT seems to possess.
Through 11 songs HGWT not only proves that Postcards wasn’t a fluke, they show that they were just getting warmed up. Hell, even the instrumental on Mergers is more polished and better than the one on Postcards. Month’s ago I posted on my Facebook that I could not wait for people to hear the new HGWT and Glossary albums cause they were gonna find homes on a lot of year end lists and now that they’re both out, I stand by it. Like Glossary’s newest album, Mergers & Acquisitions is Essential Listening amongst the Essential Listening list.