Album Review: The Stillwater Hobos

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Jamie Kuntz, A&E Editor

The Stillwater Hobos, a self-described “Irish-American folk band,” features the talents of University of Dallas students Will Teller, Austin Walker, Taylor Posey, Danny Jones, Alex Burch, Bob Long and Thomas Nelson. While they “hobo’d” across North and West Ireland, they stopped at a pub in Galway and found themselves listening to locals performing.  This is where the band would first play together.  This is where the Stillwater Hobos was born.

The Stillwater Hobos entertain fans with close harmonies and the folksy acoustics of guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin, and bouzouki.
The Stillwater Hobos entertain fans with close harmonies and the folksy acoustics of guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin, and bouzouki.

“We’d been hearing so many bad originals there from the Irishmen that we decided to get onstage and play the most American music we knew – a couple Old Crow songs,” the band said. After returning to the U.S., the members spent some time busking on the streets of Asheville, Taylor Posey making more money juggling than he had at his minimum-wage job. They hadn’t entertained the idea of officially starting a band until they returned from Asheville.
Each of the seven songs on their first EP has a unique melody and an interesting musical narrative; each song tells a story, unlike the meaningless drivel that is so often heard on the radio these days. It’s easy to close your eyes while listening and be momentarily convinced that you are sipping a Guinness at a pub in Ireland instead of sitting in your dorm in Irving, Texas.
The Stillwater EP has a powerful start with “Strong Thomas,” though  my favorite song on the EP would have to be “The Night Visit.” It has a humorous opening (in which Danny Jones regales his bandmates with the story of the infamous eviction of students from “The Bar” in Old Mill), which should be at odds with the melancholy, almost haunting tone of the song, but somehow manages to fit together exactly right. The band said it originally had trouble with the song during the recording process, when none of the takes sounded quite right.
“We knew that we needed to do something to get back the sort of busking energy,” the band said. “Taylor remembered how Danny would sometimes narrate ‘The Night Visit’ in between verses, so he says, ‘Danny, if I ask for a story when we start recording again, will you tell me one?’ Anyway, that was the little thing that got us in the spirit again, and we played a good ‘Night Visit.’”
“Southern Mountain Girl” is a fun, rollicksome tune that listeners will inevitably find themselves whistling or humming along to. Though the tune is fun and seemingly lighthearted, the lyrics near the end of the song suggest a certain melancholy with which most everyone can relate (specifically with the line, “And I long for a woman who is now just a friend of a friend”).  “Black and Tans” is equally catchy, though its mood more somber.
“Sailor on the Rock” and “Pamlico Bound” are my least favorite songs on the EP, though that doesn’t mean much; they are still fun, energetic songs that leave listeners tapping their toes along to the beat. It’s easy to see the Irish-American folk influences in these songs.
“I guess it needs to be said that, though we have our ‘originals’ and have been writing for some time, and are always writing, we’d never stop playing traditional Irish or old-time Americana – it’s the tradition that we’re a part of, and we write in that tradition too,” the band said.
Though The Stillwater Hobos EP is definitely not for everyone, I suggest giving it a listen. After all, I didn’t think I would be the type to enjoy Irish-American folk music, and yet I’ve had their songs playing on repeat since I bought the EP (which can be found on iTunes).
For more information about the band, go to  http://thestillwaterhobos.tumblr.com/, or check out its Facebook page.

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