Six Shooter Records’ tagline reads “Life is too short to listen to shitty music.” It’s a dangerous statement to make when an album you’re releasing occasionally treads a few yards over that line. To make believable, hard-bitten alt.country, a certain level of gravitas has to be reached and consistently maintained. Elliott Brood seem to be unable to do this. While the musicianship is there — the banjo’s twang, acoustic’s fiery strum and mandolin’s plunky melody are firmly in place — but the vocals feel too neophyte to ring true. “Acer Negundo” would fit perfectly in the voice box of Tom Waits or Nick Cave, but artificially gravelled-up in production, it feels like cheating, or at least an acknowledgment that they’re out of their element. They sound much more comfortable when they inject the country sounds with pop music’s stridency. In “The Bridge,” a bouncy rhythm section propels the track through an upbeat acoustic groove and three-part vocal harmony. By the end of Ambassador, it’s obvious that Elliott Brood have some growing to do, cigarettes to chain smoke and decisions to make about on which side of the fence they should set up camp next time around.
Six Shooter Records: www.sixshooterrecords.com