Imagine, if you will, a small town in the state of Kentucky USA, finding yourself sitting in a particularly seedy bar. The kind of place with cowboy hats aplenty, even more bottles of bourbon from which the local regulars take a good few gulps and most importantly, a jukebox in the corner. If there were a collection of songs most fitting to be echoing from that jukebox it would probably be Tie That Binds, the latest EP from The Hello Morning, ironically a band hailing from the other side of the world.
Indeed, all 6 members of the group are are in fact residents in Melbourne Australia, the Country tinged, American influenced Rock n Roll they produce winning them a worldwide fan base. The EP (the band’s first release since last year’s debut album) begins with the explosive title track and single Tie That Binds, a song that has lead singer Steven Clifford passionately howling akin to Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy as the rest of the band backs up his stellar vocal performance with epic piano and beautifully played slide guitar.
Stay Awake is a similarly dramatic affair that brings to mind the stadium sounds of Bruce Springsteen whilst The Closer with its menacingly bombastic chorus has Neil Young’s folk rock stamp all over it, the legend being a key influence of the band. Whilst it is nice to hear the band’s influences shine though, its hard to ignore the comparisons the band does seem to draw and it would be fair to point out these original songs don’t really push the envelope in regards to the country rock genre any further in the way US counterparts My Morning Jacket and Band Of Horses.
The EP closes the curtains with closing track Jackson, a cover of Johnny Cash and June Carter’s bittersweet classic with Carter’s vocals supplied by Melbourne folk songstress Ali Barter. Its a haunting and impressively captured duet that really shows how talented the two vocalists are at emulating the worn American voices the genre mostly sees.
As an EP, Tie That Binds is an impressive display of both songwriting and performance for which all members of the band deserve credit. Whilst the end result is indeed enjoyable enough, its just very familiar territory in terms of its genre. The lack of experimentation with the sound in a sense hinders the band from really making a distinct identity for themselves, without which they probably won’t get the recognition the songs deserve any time soon. A fine EP, only a stone’s throw away from originality.