The Toy Hearts “Whiskey”
Birmingham bluegrassers The Toy Hearts fourth album would be better named after its first track than its second. “Bring On The Swing” it demands, and that’s exactly what the trio do. Aided and abetted by a full band backing, notably Eamon McLoughlin on fiddle, they’ve produced a set over which the shadow of Bob Wills hangs heavy. This is of course a good thing, and the band’s takes on the great man’s “I Hear You Talkin’” and “Lonesome Hearted Blues” are excellent, pepping with vim, sass and fire. There’s also a fine version of Wayne Hancock’s “Thunderstorms and Neon Signs” that crackles like the lightning the song talks about. ”Authentic” may be a much abused word but the band really do sound like they’ve come from the American heartlands.
Hannah Johnson’s vocals are sparky and feisty, while sister Sophia and father Stewart are sterling players fit to stand alongside the best. The playing is slick, but not too slick, and a sense of joy in the music pervades the album and communicates itself to the listener. A fine album that reaches out beyond the bands bluegrass roots and should see them consolidate their position as among the best of British.