The War & The Treaty - Healing Tide
Nashville is so synonymous with Country music that it is easy to forget that it can be something of a melting pot of genres, and as if that point needed proving here comes the latest record by the War & The Treaty which is a glorious fusion of soul and country music that comes together to make a truly uplifting record.
The War & The Treaty or Michael Trotter Jr & Tanya Blount-Trotter to give them their real names are set to make their UK debut in July in London at Under The Bridge, Preceding them is a quite spectacular album "Healing Tide" that takes in a myriad of soul and country influences to create something refreshingly new while paying homage to those influences.
This album announces itself in the boldest of ways, "Love Like There's No Tomorrow" is just the barest of percussion over which Michael and Tanya are given free reign to explore their range of harmonies in what is almost a spiritual anthem . The sheer power of this opener is something to behold.
From there a quick count of "1,2,3,4" leads into a glorious high speed soul shuffle of the title track "Healing Tide". With the intensity of a band playing in a hot sweaty club for their very lives this is highly infectious stuff as Michael offers “How to take the bad and make something good” . A high powered chorus mingled with piano and guitar solos make this track simply irresistible.
For "Are You Ready To Love Me?" Tanya gets to take lead in some spectacular style, on a modern soulful classic- but choc full of that sixties soul feeling, It's an all out proposal of love with her saying "I've been looking for your kind of love all my life". Tanya's vocals are simply awesome.
By the fourth song things had to slow a little however a War & The Treaty is still something special, "Hearts" opens to a slow piano intro – gradually opening up to be a heartfelt ballad expressing the deepest of feelings , “I would rather be a cripple using you as my cane if it meant I could lean on you”.
"Jeep Cherokee Laredo" opens to some snazzy keyboards, drum and bass, and is perhaps the most light hearted track of the record, with the message " Ain't none of your business what we doin 'In the back of our J-E-E-P Cherokee Laredo!"
If the record until now had been more than wearing its soulful credentials on its sleeve, "One and the Same" takes things off in a more familiar Nashville direction with guitars, mandolins and harmonica and a definite Country feel, It comes with a message as well "Cause when you act out of love You see how much we'll gain When we realize we're one and the same".
If It's In Your Heart" – has an almost church organ opening over which Michael lays down a rich warm vocal. There’s a slide guitar which again gives this a somewhat americana sound. It continually builds as the instrumentation builds up and the additional vocals kick in, turning it into something of a “Hey Jude” style epic complete with a "Na na na na na" finale, This is powerful stuff delivered with some aplomb " If it's in your heart to be in love again And I walk away from all my past and present sin If it's in your heart to stand out in the pouring rain then together we'll stand pouring out, pouring out our pain"
"Here Is Where The Loving Is At", with its fiddle opening once again puts us back in the more traditional Nashville sound and even features an appearance from Nashville royalty in the shape of Emmylou Harris on an unbridled declaration of love "Oh, you bet your penny I'd rather go blind Than to see my life without you, it wouldn't be right When the morning comes I'll be by your side"
"All I Wanna Do" is another of the driving uptempo soul love songs of the record, another clear declaration of love over a thumping drumbeat " I can ride a train out west I can fly to New Orleans I can cruise with you through the Rocky Mountains 'Til we run out of steam All I wanna do is be with you". With some wild and crazy guitar work you cannot but fall victim to the rhythm and the sheer power of the delivery.
"It’s Not Over Yet" – a beautiful country ballad, full of optimism “You’ve got more to live for”, it's about not giving up as long as there is breath in your body you can still accomplish that dream. It comes attached to an uplifting tune that exudes that feeling of hope.
The album closes with "Little New Bern", a duet initially over a piano and pedal steel is a beautiful closer to the album. In many way the lack of instruments gives us the chance to savour just how well the harmonies between the two work.
An exceptional record from an exceptional band, for lovers of soul, country and just good time music, this record delivers on all levels.
The War & The Treaty make their London debut on July 11th at Under The Bridge – this may be a different side to Nashville but it is no less entertaining – and if their live show is anywhere as good as this record this could well be a London debut that is talked about for a long while.