The Toy Hearts - Whiskey (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
BIRMINGHAM-based Bluegrass and Swing outfit The Toy Hearts have decided to branch out with their latest album, Whiskey, by combining original and cover material and filling out their sound.
The band have previously released three completely acoustic bluegrass albums but have layered in the instruments (from banjo to violin and more besides) for their latest, while partly paying homage to their influences and inspirations from Western Swing, Rockabilly, Jazz and Blues.
The ensuing album comprises of a mixture of their own compositions – such as lead track Whiskey – alongside songs by artists such as Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Wayne Hancock, Bessie Smith and Ronnie Self.
Sisters Hannah and Sophia Johnson continue to take vocal lead and provide a lush focal point for all of the songs, while their classic style lends itself well to the occasional lapses into hot jazz and old time swing.
Hence, a prime example of this is Bring on The Swing!, a lively opening effort that is a real nostalgia trip… as well as a get up and dance ditty. The vocals are great fun.
Whiskey, on the other hand, is an original composition and a country ballad that’s beautifully sung and beautifully told, complete with a lovely violin accompaniment throughout.
Elsewhere, Mary Jane mixes sultry vocals with a bluesy vibe to pleasing effect, Big Fool is a toe-tappingly good country yarn (a proper barn dance floor-filler), Pass The Jack is steeped in Bluegrass, and Me And My Gin is a classy slice of blues that comes drenched in the alcohol of which it speaks.
The Toy Hearts look set to win more friends with their latest offering, which could well boast crossover appeal on both sides of the Atlantic. It deserves to do well, especially if you like your music to come with classic values lovingly intact.
Download picks: Bring On The Swing!, Whiskey, Mary Jane, Me And My Gin, Big Fool