It would be nice to seek deeper meaning or have a more exotic explanation to this bands name. As it stands the answer is very straightforward. "Sons of Bill" comprises brothers James, Sam and Abe Wilson the off spring of Virginia Professor of Literature William Wilson an expert of the doyen of Southern writers William Faulkner. Working alongside bassist Seth Green and drummer Todd Wellons this is the bands fourth album but this reviewers first experience of their music. It is a joy to pronounce that "Love and Logic" is a record of the highest quality with a range of American songs that check Big Star, REM and more traditional country sources. There is no musical earthquake to be found on this album but you sense that is a stayer, an album that allows you to wax lyrical about its strengths but also regret that in the pop fuelled mediocrity of today's music this will probably never trouble the charts.
Opener "Big unknown" does start off sounding like "My Sweet Lord" until a slide guitar enters and anchors it as an melodic alt country anthem with different brothers taking vocal duties. As impressive is the rolling "Long Road to Canaan" a beautifully produced track riddled with the haunting pedal steel instrumentation from the multi instrumentalist Sam Wilson. Other songs like "Lost in the Cosmos (song for Chris Bell)" echoes the haunting country sounds of bands like the Low Anthem and some of the great music of Chris Bell post Big Star. It is Michael Stipe that is the inspiration for "Arms of the Landslide" which sounds like early REM and makes you reflect how much that great band is missed. Finally Stipe and Co are name checked on the melodic guitar rock of "Bad Dancers" where James Wilson tackles the duality of the Southern experience especially in the reflection that "Once Southern boys they all loved R.E. Lee, and once Southern girls loved R.E.M. Were they all in confederacy against you? Or were you just like them?". The entire kit and caboodle is drawn to a suitably melancholy close with the sumptuous acoustics of "Hymn-song" where once again the sheer quality of the band shine through.
American and Canadian music is currently populated with bands that plough a deep Americana furrow and carve out a good living from it. Other acts like the Barr Brothers, Field Report and Apache Relay all fall into this category. They, like Sons of Bill, produce music which does not over conceptualise and yet is anchored in the deep roots of the American past and a traditional of thoughtful lyricism. "Love and Logic" is real find and a nice musical fork in the road should you choose to follow it.
Review by Red on Black