Here we have the debut album by Wellington-based Kiwi folk Americana actT-Bone, and mighty fine it is too. The quintet comprises Gerry Paul, AaronStewart, Richard Klein, Michael Muggeridge, and Cameron ‘Dusty’ Burnell,and they bring together an acoustic mix of zydeco, old-time, blues,bluegrass, and folk with Americana to create something which is incrediblyenjoyable and full of depth. They also have avoided using any form ofpercussion, which means the music is always light and with plenty of spacefor all the instruments to be heard while the lush harmonies are clear and stress free. In some waysthey make me think of {Turkey The Bird}, and when they come to Auckland in a few weeks’ time theywill also have {Hoop} as support, as did TTB when I saw them last Saturday.The guys have been rehearsing every Monday night for the last seven years, playing some music,eating food, and sampling wine, setting themselves up for the rest of the week and this has comethrough on the album as there is that easy companionship which only happens when musicians havebeen playing together a great deal and trust and relax around each other. While the bass is at theheart of all they do, providing the foundation, any of the other instruments could be taking the leador providing the nuances, or they could be combined in a glorious whole, so the concentration is onthe vocals. Seven of the songs are originals by Gerry Paul, two are co-written by the band and threeare from the New Orleans, Zydeco and Cajun traditions. While Mumford & Sons are an obviousinfluence, Far North is a fine example of what Simon & Garfunkel would have sounded like in thevery early days if they had more of a bluegrass style.Their songs are incredibly catchy, with hooks a plenty and while they are obviously aimed at the folkand Americana market there is no doubt that they would also easily grace mainstream radio as thereis so much joy within these, along with plenty of hooks. I can imagine them rehearsing in a circle sothey can all see each other while they play, with everyone having a smile on their face as it is justthat sort of album. They describe themselves as a mandolin playing ex-chef from the Far North, afiddle playing wine importer from New Jersey, a Dublin-born spearfishing songwriter, a guitarslinging laboratory assistant from Taranaki and a gardening double bassist from Karori, and in manyways this tells you exactly what you need to know as this self-deprecating style comes through inthis gorgeous collection of songs.This is simply essential for any lover of acoustic music, as this combination of mandolin, banjo,guitar, fiddle, double bass, and harmony vocals with great songs is a delight from beginning to end.

by Kev Rowland