Country rock isn’t for everyone. A lot of the time I’d say it isn’t for me – and that’s probably because some of it is overproduced, overplayed, underwritten and insincerely delivered, and that gives the genre a bad name.
When Tasmania’s Wolfe Brothers emerged as country rock artists, supporting Lee Kernaghan on tour as his band and support act, I was sceptical. Then I was asked to interview a couple of the band members on separate occasions and it became immediately clear that their commitment to their music came from a well-established and passionate place. They were professional, astute and hardworking, and they simply loved playing music.
Seeing the Wolfe Brothers live affirmed all of that: their shows are vibrant and entertaining, and they engage the audience from the first note.
Ideally, all that is put aside when reviewing an album, because the album has to stand on its own merits. It’s impossible to do that, however, because all that professionalism and passion is in the Wolfes’ new album, This Crazy Life. This is country rock done very well: articulate lyrics, sensitive playing and producing, and attention to detail throughout. There’s a great balance of up-tempo songs that have the right amount of rowdy with slower songs verging on ballads. It’s a Goldilocks album: just right.
It’s a mystery how the Wolfe Brothers have been album to sustain their touring workload over the past few years and still find time to create albums; I suspect it’s because, while they may like to present an image of being wild musicians, they’re actually highly organised, plus they understand what it means to have a relationship with their fans. Albums are their way of staying connected to their fans when they can’t be there in person.
In short: the Wolfe Brothers converted me to country rock. I suspect they’ll convert you too.
This Crazy Life is out now through ABC Music/Universal.