Boy Named Banjo’s major-label debut album, Dusk is out now, September 29th on all streaming platforms. Listen to the new music below.
Admittedly, prior to receiving Dusk in my inbox, I had never heard of Boy Named Banjo. Yet, from the opening chords of “Something Bout a Sunset” to the final moments of “Opposite Directions,” I was hooked.
For the quintet, who have been together for over a decade, the nine track album represents their major label debut with Mercury Records Nashville. Produced by Oscar Charles, the collection is a bluegrass-laden, Laurel-canyon-inspired jaunt through an epic sonic whirlwind of country meets folk meets Americana.
Composed of Barton Davies, Ford Garrard, Sam McCullough, Willard Logan and William Reames, Boy Named Banjo formed while Davies and Reames were still in high school, honing their chops busking on the streets of Nashville. Garrard, McCullough, and Logan would join soon after, completing the group.
“Our band has so many different sides and personalities to it,” says Davies. “One minute we might be singing bluegrass harmonies around a condenser mic, and the next we’ve got these big, distorted guitars and pounding, rock and roll drums. This album feels like the first time we’ve been able to capture it all at once, the first time we’ve been able to bottle that live energy and share it on a record.”
“We wanted to make a big statement with our first full-length release on Mercury,” Reames adds in a statement. ”Our influences have always been really broad and our sound has always been really wide-ranging, and we didn’t want to shy away from that. At the end of the day, this is who we are.”
The album opens with “Something Bout a Sunset,” a lush and dreamy mid-tempo about the promises a sunset seems to hold. With its hints of the Eagles and Laurel Canyon, Boy Named Banjo’s harmonies evoke visions of stunning pinks, oranges and blues. “We wanted these songs to take you on a journey,” Davies explains. “You start out soaking in a sunset with someone you think you’ll be with forever, and by the end, you’re going your separate ways and coming to terms with heartbreak and moving on.”
“Heart Attack” is an immediate standout, building fervently to a powerful musical climax where banjo meets drums that is sure to set any live stage ablaze.
“Let a spark turn into a fire // Let it burn into the night // Let love walk us out on a wire // Girl don’t hold back // Let your heart attack mine.”
Likewise, “Feel For You (Dusk),” “Whiskey Dreams,” “Lonely in this Town” and “Young Forever” follow in a similar vein with anthemic, stadium-ready feels. Peppered with fiddle and steel, the quintet celebrates the undeniable appeal of eternal youth on “Young Forever.”
“Tonight, could be the rest of our lives // If you wanna run, we’ll hold on tight // If we could stay young together // We could stay young forever,”They sing celebratorily. “Time might pass us by // You know the way the days gonna fly // If we could stay young together // We could stay young forever”
Meanwhile “Lonely in this Town” has a hint of 90’s alternative mixed with banjo-laden twang, sounding as some sort of perfect amalgamation of the Gin Blossoms, the Eagles, Eli Young Band, and the Steeldrivers. Trust me, it works.
“I’ve always felt like ‘Lonely In This Town’ is best enjoyed driving with the windows down in your car,” shares Davies. “The music feels uplifting and euphoric with the three-part harmonies and steady groove, but then the lyrics come in and give the complete opposite vibe. It’s almost like you’re lonely but you’re happy about it. I love that duality in the song.”
“Whiskey Dreams” keeps the party going, featuring a full out jam session in the middle as the group celebrates a good buzz.
“Cause we ain’t got no troubles, honey // We ain’t gotta worry bout a thing // Ain’t it better when it’s blurry, honey // Let’s just sit and have another drink // Maybe someday everything will be like in our whiskey dreams // In our whiskey dreams”
“Mama, I’m Misbehavin’” is quite the special track, offering a different feel than the rest of the album, while still managing to fit in perfectly. Despite being the only track not written by one of the band members, the staccato delivery of the chorus over sparse instrumentation makes it another standout.
“Goodbyes are Sad” and the album’s final track, “Opposite Directions” allow the band to slow things down as they move on from the end of a relationship. While “Goodbyes are Sad” still has a hopeful feel, “Opposite Directions” finds them moving on and splitting up with resignation, sparse instrumentation adding to the haunting vocal performance.
“You go your way and I’ll go mine // She took the mountains, I took the prairies // Somewhere under that western sky I came to peace with what we buried // Ain’t no bad blood, ain’ t no one to blame // Pressure makes a diamond or pressure makes the rain // There ain’t no shame in opposite direction”
On Dusk, Boy Named Banjo makes their major label debut in the best way possible. The album is an explosive, memorable mix of catchy lyrics, brilliant instrumentation, and unmatched harmonies. I may not have heard of Boy Named Banjo prior to hearing Dusk, but I’m officially a fan who can’t wait to hear so much more.
Dusk Track List:
- Something ‘Bout A Sunset (Barton Davies, William Reames and Stephen Wilson Jr.)
- Heart Attack (Barton Davies, William Reames, Jeff Hyde and Ryan Tyndell)
- Feel For You (Dusk) (Barton Davies, William Reames, Daniel Fernandez and Michael David Whitworth)
- Young Forever (William Reames, Luke Preston and Jonathan Sherwood)
- Whiskey Dreams (Barton Davies, William Reames and Angelo Petraglia)
- Mama, I’m Misbehavin’ (Ethan Bryan Baumgarner, Oscar Charles, Olivia Rudeen and Jonathan Sherwood)
- Goodbyes Are Sad (William Reames, Barton Davies, Oscar Charles and Stephen Wilson Jr.)
- Lonely In This Town (Barton Davies, William Reames, Marv Green and Chris Stevens)
- Opposite Directions (Barton Davies, William Reames and Jonathan Sherwood)
Country Swag Picks:
- Heart Attack
- Young Forever
- Whiskey Dreams
- Lonely in this Town
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Boy Named Banjo will take the stage at New York's Brooklyn Bowl on November 17. For more tour dates, click here.
Dusk is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released tunes on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.