Since their arrival on the Celtic-Punk scene back in 2013 Black Water County have become one of its shining lights swiftly going from support slots to headline act right across the country. Marv runs the rule over their second album which shows them maturing into an act that is preparing for BIG things.
Back in September 2019 I was lucky enough to spend a day in the studio with Black Water as they were putting the finishing touches to their new album Comedies and Tragedies at The Ranch Production House in Hampshire. It was a lot of fun to spend time with the band and get the skinny on the new album. It was clear from the run-throughs that they were gestating a banging new set of tracks and it was a real pleasure to see it unfold.
As anyone familiar with their evolution will know, Black Water County has gone from strength to strength in the past couple of years. After a couple of EPs, their debut album Taking chances met with almost universal acclaim a couple of year ago. Their brand of fast and uproarious Guinness-and-Cider-soaked mayhem has proven impossible to resist in the grass roots folkpunk live scene. Particularly in the west country but also further afield and their gigs are usually loud, sweaty parties of booze-driven joy. I was at the front for their Bimble Inn debut at Beautiful Days Festival in 2018. Their follow-up Beautiful Days set in 2019 was a glorious party, packed to the 2000-capacity gunnels for a triumphant set of classic BWC before an adoring crowd, all intent on singing and dancing their arses off.
With the new album they have come of age. It’s the same Black Water County we know and love, the same level of hard-working folkpunks songs seemingly designed with the specific intention of putting a grin on your face and movement in your body. However they have upped their game. It’s smoother and yet simultaneously coarser. More complex whilst at the same time retaining their raw and rowdy energy. Vocal duties continue to be shared between Shannon and Tim with lashings of gorgeous harmonies from the rest of the band. Gone are some of the more comedic vocals and themes (brilliant and humorous though they were), to be replaced with more songs of wistful loss, conflicted angst and other contemplative themes, but all pounded together skillfully with blistering drums and musicianship. I even noticed some solo bass runs in there and some screaming electric guitar amongst the manic fiddle, banjo and lord knows what else; it’s all in there! A beautiful cacophony of distilled folkpunk bliss!
The songs are all new of course, yet instantly familiar. If you love Black Water County you will adore this album. There is no let up in the fellowship of the craic (the title of one of their early EPs) a perfect description of their unwritten manifesto. If you want a taster to see if it’s up your alley, find the track Darkest Days, it is both quintessential Black Water County and the perfect showcase of their new raw sound. How the hell did they manage to do that in a single song? It beats me, but I’m too busy wallowing in the glory to question it further.
The Rise and continued Rise of Black Water County; long may it continue.
Photos courtesy of Marvellous Gig Photography camera for hire!