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The members of Naughty Water hail from Brighton, but their sound draws inspiration from much farther away, both in time and space. All members of the band (Phil Stanley, Sam Small, Dave Becker, and Tyler Brooks) share a love of the many artists that have so heavily shaped their sound. They described themselves as a “Little bit of Gram Parsons, little bit of Neil Young, peppered with some Led Zeppelin,” but also listed Bob Dylan, Crosby Stills and Nash, and many more classic country-rock acts. Their name, fittingly, comes from a drink that they describe as “moonshine with a little something extra.”
Phil Stanley, the lead singer and songwriter for the band, says his inspirations come from a lot of places you can’t really predict. “I think a lot of outside influences come in and they gestate,” he said. “When they’re ready to start, they come out… and you just kind of write it out.” He also says that while he does the majority of the songwriting, he does run everything by the rest of the band before they begin to play a song; he says he would never insist on playing something the other members of the group don’t love. It’s lucky, then, that they share a common opinion when it comes to music.
Stanley introduced their first song by saying, “We’re usually a full-tilt electric band, but this one translates really well to acoustic.” The song, “Ain’t Enough Love,” is a jam-y, downtempo groove, the sort of thing that comes out of a night spent drinking whiskey on the porch with a few friends. The lyrics are about an aggressive girl, and when asked if the story was based on a true event, Stanley said, “It’s kinda the country writing process…you just come up with situations.”
The next track, “Get Too High,” is what Stanley described as their Creedence Clearwater Revival song: “Sometimes bad stuff just happens. It’s sort of a keep your chin up song.” While the recorded version of the track showcases a much heavier, electric, Zeppelin-style guitar riff, the acoustic take allowed the band to show off a throatier, harmonic vocal style, as Becker and Small echoed Stanley’s chorus with “Lord, you know I’ve been there.” In fact, on listening to the recorded track, I preferred their live version; it allowed for a more natural energy that really spoke to their roots in country.
They spoke about the process of country songwriting and the lack of gimmicks they find there. They discussed the new wave of country-influenced songwriters (Mumford and Sons, the Avett Brothers, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros come to mind) that are pushing aside electronic-based music: “I think it’s more real.”
They closed with “Talking Bahrain Blues,” a more uptempo, bluegrass track that had everyone in the room tapping their feet. Check out Naughty Water if you ever need a taste of Southern rock in New England!