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The Good Intentions

Travelling Companion – 2013 (Drumfire)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by The Good Intentions

The Good Intentions are the latest example of England's infatuation with America's alt.-country legacy. It's a credit then to their knack for authenticity that this latest album finds homegrown contributors - producer Rick Shea and pedal steel player Greg Leisz, among them - offering their instrumental prowess in support. There's little doubt, in fact, that the Americans feel right at home here; chief songwriter R. Peter Davies has a knack for crafting tunes that sound like they were gleaned in our nation's heartland, be it the twangy mountain sounds of Gold Watch and Chain, the weathered repast of Colfax Town or the Gram and Emmylou rambling of Pull the Jailhouse Down. In fact, the music is so uncannily authentic sounding, it takes considerable investigation to confirm the fact that indeed this band is actually from Britain.

Nonetheless, the U.K. has a proud history of taking America's homegrown sounds and returning them to us with tradition in tow. Heads Hands and Feet, Brinsley Schwarz (featuring a young Nick Lowe), My Darling Clementine and Starry Eyed and Laughing have all purveyed this approach at one time or another, which makes The Good Intentions heir to both their legacy and the original template distilled on theses shores. The fact that they convey it so convincingly is what gives pause, and it's certainly what makes "Travelling Companion" sound so essential.

To be sure, there are occasional hints of English identity buried within, particularly on the track A Driver's Farewell, a lovely example of wistful resilience that sounds so similar to Richard Thompson's Down Where the Drunkards Roll that it takes a second glance at the credits to ensure they're not in fact the same song. Still, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The Good Intentions stay true to their handle and aim to music that sounds quite right.