HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL – MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

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.

Have Gun Will Travel – Dream No More
Have Gun Will Travel – To The Victor Go The Spoils
Have Gun Will Travel – Katharine, Don’t Fall Off The Wagon

Have Gun Will Travel’s Official Site, Have Gun Will Travel on Facebook, Have Gun Will Travel on Spotify, Buy Mergers & Acquisitions

7 thoughts on “HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL – MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS”

  1. Tom Petty, sure, but the album’s really a song-by-song Traveling Wilburys exercise, I think. Which certainly hits the “effortless” side of the spectrum.

    “Katherine, Don’t Fall Off The Wagon” is as good as anything on Postcards, though.

      1. Somehow I like the songs on their own better than the album as a whole. On their own, they remind me of the other two albums, especially “Dream No More,” “Time Machine,” “Katharine,” and “New England.” But as they pile on top of each other, this time around, I feel like the album’s short on magnitude. Those songs I just mentioned sound all suffocated and confused and restless–like mid-Florida stories sound–but the rest of it sounds like an album recorded in the Keys after Jimmy Buffet came through and sucked all the cool out of them. That’s the Traveling Wilburys in it. It has it’s place, and it takes nothing away from the rest of the body of work, but it’s the innocuous version. Not enough Bradenton in it, maybe.

        For instance, “To the Victor Go The Spoils” has the frame of a solid Tom Petty song like “Running Down a Dream,” or what-have-you, but it comes out more like the Traveling Wilburys version, which would be “The Devil’s Been Busy.”

        And “Song of Seven Sisters” tries for a Dylan “Highway 61” thing, but no one ever has a chance when they do that, so it sounds like the Wilburys trying their hand at some nonsense.

        That said, I love the Traveling Wilburys, with and without Orbison. And I’m glad Have Gun stayed subdued and didn’t overreach and try some bombastic Schnabel-esque vocals or anything. My problem with the lack of magnitude might just be the side-effect of the first Have Guns song I ever heard being “Salad Days.”

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