Awkward Family Portraits, Everything We’ve Done Up Until Now Except What We’ve Done Since (2019) Holy Smokes Records

Awkward Family Portraits. With a name that sounds like a meme or social media hash tag this band mixes Western Swing, Rock n Roll, Louche Gipsy Jazz, Louis Jordan, the guitar of Les Paul and knowing County. So well do this band get inside 50s valve Rock n Roll that it comes as a surprise to realise they are young players and hail from Scotland. “AFP Theme”, sounding like a late night broadcast from a 50s Twilight Zone Country Station cutting through the static, brilliantly defines the quartet’s territory perfectly. The intro is pure Hillbilly Blues Brothers meets Bob Wills from Julen Santamaria. “Keep On Keeping On” and “Can’t Control Cupid” with an infectious shuffle beat and some sharp electric guitar and sweet fiddle are straight ahead good time music. “Chapati 3” with a great lead from Timmy Allen is languid rockabilly with some wonderfully smooth harmony vocals. “Way The Wind Blows” is superb crooned Rock n Roll with a killer 50s guitar solo from Timmy and Gipsy fiddle from Roo Geddes. Beneath the Rock n Roll spit n shine of “Kick The Bucket” there is a serious message delivered with gallows humour as aptly as a band named Awkward Family Portraits can. The punch behind the smile. “Day in the Life of a Lying Man” with lines straight from National Enquirer is a wry raspberry at fake news. The wry lyrics are beautifully wrapped around some slick guitar picking and fine playing. Surprise at the end is “Come On Down” a heartfelt acoustic Country song that owes more to porch bluegrass and Gillian Welch than electric Rock n Roll, revealing some punch in Allan’s voice. A sincere wry lament, to leave you thoughtful rather than smiling. Like the game box cover says from ages 1 to 100 fun for all the family. Seriously slick informed music, delivered with a degree of homage and a smile.

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