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The Dunwells, a folk-rock outfit from the UK, came to the WERS studio as a trio to perform for live music week. The band acquired their name in a rather logical fashion, borrowing the surname of band members and brothers Joseph and David. On top of all of the familial chemistry within the group, the band considers themselves all to be “best mates” and judging from their performance, musical soul mates.
The band kicked off their set with, “I Could Be a King” the lead single from their recently released debut album Blind Sighted Faith. The song chugged away steadily with a simple chord progression played on acoustic guitar, leaving room for the rhythmic, danceable box drum groove to fill in the gaps. The most prominent and admirable feature of the song was the instantly catchy vocal melody that irreversibly sticks itself in the minds of anyone who hears it, playing itself on repeat for days to come. The song, despite being essentially a folk-pop song, had a rock and roll energy that hindered it from coming off as too delicate. In the chorus, Joseph sang “I could be a king/ I could be anything I want” and, while his claim is believable, he fortunately choose to be a musician. To pile on to the list of arbitrary genre tags the band can bare, the song ended with a triumphant series of “Oos” and “Ahs” signature of stadium Indie Rockers like Arcade Fire.
The Dunwells followed up with “Follow the Road” the folksiest song of the bunch, with an appropriately folky title. The song had a steady, simple guitar line backed by a four to the floor, foot stomping beat. As deep as the folk influences were in the song, the band again made sure to never come off as gentle. The song had a confident and bold energy, and the band seemed any thing but shy and reserved, which has become an unfortunate cliché of modern folk music. The Dunwells proved that folk is a flexible genre that can just as easily be in your face and energetic as it can be in its usual introverted and apprehensive form. The band has been touring extensively in America for the past year, and has become more and more familiar with the land that they draw their influences from “There’s a few minor differences between American audiences and British audiences” claimed David “American audiences really like to support the underdog, it’s a really nice feeling.”
The last song was a special treat for WERS, a new song that has yet to be recorded, “This Time” a song that was written on their tour bus, or as Joseph put it “born in America.” The song sounded like it could easily be blasted through the car radio of an El Camino tuned into the local classic rock station without anyone second guessing it, or selling Chevys during the commercial break of a Monday night Patriots game. The UK based band, when playing music, magically transforms in to Americans, not just in their accents but also in their musical sentiments. As unnatural as it is for an English band to be labeled Americana, the band has no gripes with it. “The majority of music that we listen to is Americana,” said Joseph, “we look up to those musicians.” “We don’t take it as a insult,” brother, David continued, “We’re fans of that music.” By the end of end of the set it felt like I just watched the performance to the soundtrack to an existential crisis of Americans trapped in the bodies of English gentleman.