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World Music CD Reviews North American

The Wilders

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published July 22, 2008

Someone's Got To Pay
Free Dirt

On their latest album, The Wilders have taken a few small steps toward a more electrified sound—a marked departure from their old-school Ozark leanings. Bassist Nate Gawron goes electric on a few cuts, and Glenn Fields from Louisiana’s Red Stick Ramblers sits in on the drum kit, which is another first for the band. The connective tissue of Someone’s Got To Pay is the five-part “Sittin’ On A Jury,” written by band member Phil Wade after he served as a juror on a murder trial in Kansas City. The suite first saw the light of day in its entirety on a vinyl EP released in 2007 it reappears here with each movement acting as an interlude between other original songs. Fiddle tunes, honky-tonk songs, and old-time stringband music are just a few of the styles explored here, while short sketches of solo piano serve as yet another thread that holds the album together. Were it not for the fact that The Wilders are masters at most forms of country music, this “old murder ballad come to life” (to quote the lyrics) might have come across as disjointed. Instead, each track is strong, distinctive and instantly memorable.