Vacancy Records [Release date 06.11.20]
A Scottish country music duo? Really? As a Scotsman I somehow feel that this is a stretch of credibility – you know, quite a tenuous line to Nashville. However I immediately hold my hand up and admit that this particular bias is mine – especially at a time when the UK Country scene has never been stronger – bolstered by Ward Thomas, The Shires, The Wandering Hearts and many others.
After such a difficult year for everyone, not least those in the music business, it’s also good to see “lockdown records” start to appear and to witness what these trying times have done to enhance creative juices!
JuBillee’s name is presumably a pun on husband/wife team Justine Wilson and Billy Warren. The CD is the second release by the newly formed Vacancy Records – the first release having been Glen Campbell’s daughter Ashley.
A great starting point is the duo’s recent single “Don’t Make Me Look Into Your Eyes”, which is flat out excellent and actually recently topped the UK Country Singles chart, as well as placing in the overall UK Top 40 Singles. Have a look on YouTube and immediately see what this duo are all about. It’s great!
There are many highlights throughout the album. The other single released from the album “Bed of Lies” is also very good, it’s all “runaway trains” and “crashing and burning on a bed of lies”.
The band themselves don’t appear to write the songs (bar one – “You and I”), many of the songs being accredited to “Miller” who may or may not be the band’s manager Gary Miller
When I first heard this album, I will admit to being knocked out somewhat. On several levels it’s great; and of course you sense a “but” coming. JuBillee have to not just prosper locally – they need to compete and survive with all the big boys and girls in Nashville. People ask how to determine if a record is “country”.
Well it would take a lot more space than I have here – but country music is generally recorded in Nashville for a Country Music record label (or subsidiary of a major record label) and features country music producers, writers, musicians, distinctive sounds and instrumentation, and authentic country songs. In fact this word “authenticity” sums up country music. JuBillee have made an excellent album. I enjoy it. I would love to see this be successful enough that the next release really gets the Nashville treatment.
If they can produce more in the vein of “Don’t Let Me Look Into Your Eyes” they are on their way!
I can’t praise them more highly than compare JuBillee to my favourite country duo Thompson Square whom I saw fairly recently make an awesome live debut in Scotland. JuBillee have the ability to own the moments where your spine tingles and hairs stand up at the back of your neck!
Good Luck guys – and when people ask your musical influences answer “Haggard and Jones” rather than Leona Lewis and Journey! ****
Review by Iain McGonigal
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