Duncan Stagg & the Threadbare Band could rightly be considered a crossover genre of sorts. The reason for this is because Duncan Stagg, lead vocalist and songwriter hails from Bristol, England, but his brand of roots-rock Americana sounds more American than many American bands of the same sort. Stagg’s debut EP simply titled EP is a mix of straightforward staples that one would find hanging out in the Americana rock genre.
The songs on EP are collected from a number of years prior when Stagg used to play solo acoustic. When Stagg decided to record a record, he decided to assemble a backing band in order to give the songs more depth than they would have with only an acoustic guitar and vocals. The band he assembled consists of Jai Widdowson-Jones on drums and longtime friend, musical collaborator, and multi-instrumentalist Alex Hawker playing bass, keys, trumpet, as well as contributing backing vocals.
EP opens strongly and loudly with strings and horns on “Tiger Cub.” Here one notices from the beginning that Stagg’s lyrics are full of metaphors, which he uses to illustrate the tales at the heart of his songs. Take for instance the lyrics, “you could shoot an eagle down/and tear a tree from its roots/did the fall even make a sound?” and a few bars later repeating “the dirt will bring you down.” By the time “Tiger Cub” has reached its zenith, the aforementioned tiger cub has broken free of its chain amid swirls of trumpets and wild electric guitars.
“Joe” starts out as a slow and sappy acoustic melodrama of a broken relationship and Stagg is even careful to inflect a bit more twang to his voice to accompany the prominent banjo line, which runs throughout the song. By contrast “Piece of Thread” is slow and sappy and seems as though it was written for expressly that purpose, just to show a range of songwriting ability, though here it sticks out as exactly what it is.
All is forgiven by EP’s best track, the wallop of a dirge “Sinner Blues” where everything seems to come together perfectly. The drums skip about, the keys come alive and Stagg’s vocals and pacing are spot on. This style of song seems to be Stagg’s strong suit and one wishes there would be more of it on EP.
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