Country never needed a makeover back when some started glamming it up. Good songs played well by musicians who are jubilant and sorrowful in equal measure have always been the genre’s sweet spot.
The fans know this, and it’s obvious that the Deep Dark Woods knows this too.
The Saskatoon band’s second album, Hang Me Oh Hang Me, is exactly the type of effort that would do their genre forerunners proud. TDDW’s compositions conjure a sepia-toned time period. Some songs — like the title track and “Journey Home” — are full of sadness, isolation and spiritual fatalism. They sound like the lonely hymns of damned men. These moments of darkness are lightened by the alt-country bounce of tunes like “They Won’t Last Long” and the straight-cut, rollicking “Rumble In The Sky”.
Folk-country ballads and the longer, guitar-centric “By The Light Of The Moon” and “Big City Blues” round out the rest of this wonderful disk.
Making a record that’s essentially a throwback is a risky proposition — is it real music or an indulgent exercise in nostalgia? I’d argue that the Deep Dark Woods have managed to step around that particular rusty bear trap. Hang Me Oh Hang Me is a record fully steeped in a world decades past yet it likely won’t try anyone’s patience. And it feels more relevant than a lot of modern recordings. 4/5