They say imitation is the best form of flattery. If true, Bob Dylan and Neil Young should be incredibly flattered if they ever listen to ‘Behind The Truth’, the début release by The Midnight Union Band. Heavily influenced by the back catalogues of both, the Kilkenny five piece’s EP is a throwback to late ’60s/ early ’70s guitar and folk music.
The Burning is a case in point. The main riff has more than a touch of Neil Young to it while on vocals Shane Joyce opts to give his best Bob Dylan impression rather than singing in his native Kilkenny brogue. The Young/Dylan concoction may not make for the most original of sounding songs but the band make it work. It’s a simple, good old-fashioned rock and roll number and what’s not to love about that?
As with 99% of country tinged ballads ever written I Miss You, feels mawkish and overdone. So much so that it veers dangerously close to sounding like Bon Jovi ‘s Wanted Dead or Alive. However, the mandolin playing is exquisite. Momentum is regained with Raise It Up; a bluesy folk ramble that is almost a pastiche of The Weight by The Band. Once again though, the lack of originality can be overlooked due to the songs quality. The combination of honky- tonk piano and scorching blues licks sounds excellent, giving the song an indelible southern flavour in the process. The band embraces their folkier side on If You’d Stay. With its mix of jangly, acoustic guitar and harmonica, it’s the most Dylan-esque of the songs on the EP. An average rather than a good song this one isn’t as impressive as the rockier numbers on the album.
Title track Behind The Truth, finishes the EP with the band finding an impeccable balance between their folk and rock influences. With jarring distortion drenched guitar solos and breezy harmonica breaks resonating over solemn strumming. Joyce’s vocals peak as he moves away from Dylan wannabe, adopting a more sombre, menacing vocal delivery. Making Behind The Truth, by far, the best song on this EP.
If you can get by the brazen lack of originality then this is a very enjoyable listen. The musicianship, arrangements and production are excellent. Only one of the 5 songs could really be labelled a dud, not bad for a début offering. It’ll be interesting to see if The Midnight Union Band are capable of increasing the level of originality in their songwriting required to maintain interest over a full album. ‘Behind The Truth’ will certainly whet the appetite of fans of folk, Americana and good old-fashioned rock and roll though.