Album review: A Curious Dose by Oki’s Wagon
Dublin’s Oki’s Wagon began life in 2013 as a folk trio. Now an expanded six piece incorporating elements of bluegrass, soul and jazz, they have just released their debut album A Curious Dose. Produced with Gavin Glass, the album sounds refreshingly raw with a live sound which doesn’t surrender to the studio comforts that so many bands find irresistible nowadays.
Beginning with the sprightly ‘Horror Chord’, there are few surprises with regards to instrumentation. It’s got a neat change of tempo mid song and Audrey Gleeson’s sassy vocals make it a good track to open the album on. This is followed up by the cajun stylings of debut single ‘Shake’, Gleeson’s voice bringing to mind Leslie Dowdall at her sultriest.
It’s over the next four songs however where A Curious Dose really seduces the listener. On ‘Bottom Of The Stairs’, the album slows down and takes you to a smoky after hours joint in New Orleans.
“So I stake my claim when the sun goes down” Gleeson sings in a slow drawl on ‘In The Still Of The Night’, the kind of swampy torch song which Cowboy Junkies excelled at. ‘Sister Drifts’ demonstrates wonderful phrasing and ‘Town Of Misery’, driven by a pounding bass drum, employs stop/start dynamics to great effect.
‘Lonely Eyes’ is a typical southern folk number, led by mandolin and banjo, and could have been written for Patsy Cline or a David Lynch movie. Album closer ‘Time Flies’ is a mournful ballad which hints at longing and regret, two themes prevalent on this record.
Lyrically, there are references to sorrow, bitterness, loneliness and fear – make no mistake, this is heavy soul-baring stuff tailor-made for the music that envelops it. It’s an album that works best during its slower sultrier tracks on which Oki’s Wagon could carve out a niche for themselves. An album to go to bed with after midnight, A Curious Dose is a confident and assured debut.
A Curious Dose is available now on Bandcamp.
Review by Keith McGouran