Release Date: August 17, 2013
Run Time: 38:16
2. To Hell or California
3. Men to Be Feared
4. Empire of Skulls
5. The Brave
6. Peat Bog Soldiers
7. Never Again
8. 8.30am Glasgow Cross
9. Until the Last
10. John Maclean’s March
11. Myth of Return
The Wakes are back at it with their 4th studio, The Red and The Green, and they’ve once again delivered a strong brand of socially charged folk-rock. This album builds on the familiar and traditional themes that they (and the entire genre) is known for – there are songs about fighting, songs about drinking, and songs about country. While it excels in the folk department, the influence of others genres manage to stand out and add a lot of flavor.
The folk-punk influenced qualities stand out heavily beginning from the very first track, “Colours”, as The Wakes’ frontman Paul channels his inner Bruce Springsteen. His ability to sing passionately continues on throughout the album, regardless of the context of the song. The heartfelt folk singing mixes with a strong singing voice and bellows conviction from start to finish. His voice makes you want to dance and drink and never back down.
The lyrical themes include country and rebellion, the will to fight, and the struggles of the working class, and The Wakes deliver strong words to stand behind. While theses are not original subject matters, the lyrics and singing makes the songs feel fresh and unique.
The Wakes don’t just rely on Paul’s great singing to stand out. Their writing and arrangement makes their music feel much larger and encompassing than most 4-piece bands can achieve. Their version of the protest song “Peat Bog Soldiers”, which was originally written by prisoners in a Nazi labour camp with notable version by Pete Seeger and the Dubliners, demonstrates how well The Wakes can arrange a song to become their own. They create a tense and dramatic atmosphere that’s absent from other versions.
The Red and The Green features one more non-Wakes original with a cover of “John McCleans March”, originally off of Dick Gaughan’s 1972 album No More Forever, about the Red Clydeside era revolutionary John Maclean. The flute steals the show on this political track that could incite drinking, dancing, or both.
Other stand-out moments are the ska influence and danceable feel of “Never Again” (which serves as a perfect pick-me-up following the solemn “Peat Bog Soldiers”), the sometimes-jazzy and saxophone heavy “Empire of Skulls,” and the upbeat back-to-back combo of “To Hell or California” and “Men To Be Feared.”
The Red and The Green is an album we would definitely recommend. While the last few songs don’t quite have the same kick as the earlier parts, there isn’t a bad song to be found. All in all, this is an impressive album. It’s well rounded and well written with a great performance to boot.