Review: Snake Oil & Harmony – ‘Hurricane Riders’

Snake Oil & HarmonyHad Danny Vaughn (lead vocalist of Tyketto) and Dan Reed (frontman of funk rockers Dan Reed Network) first met up in the late ‘80’s early ‘90’s, when both of their respect outfits were at their critical peak, then chances are this album might not have seen the light of day. Or it certainly would have sounded different. Signed to Geffen Records, Tyketto would have had legendary A&R “guru” John Kalodner spilling his decaf all over his beard as he choked on his words…”You want to do an acoustic easy listening album with the Funk guy!….get me David Geffen!”

It took decades, many miles travelled, and heartache by the bucket-load before the pair crossed paths at, of all places; Download Festival. Sharing a certain kinship that only road-scarred troubadours can share, the pair hit it off and started working together. Calling themselves ‘The Two Dans’ was out, therefore Snake Oil & Harmony was spawned and ‘Hurricane Riders’ is the long-awaited debut album.

‘Hurricane Riders’ is similar in pacing and vibe to the numerous ‘Great American Songbook’ albums out there, but without actually covering anyone else’s material. There is a distinct Jimmy Webb vibe on the intro to ‘Last Man Standing’, so much so when Vaughn sings “I’ve been walking this city again” it’s hard not to feel a pang of sorrow about the loss of Glen Campbell. Or during ‘Another Reason’ where Reed recalls the spirit of Neil Young’s ‘Needle And The Damage Done’. Likewise you might pick up a soupcon of Tom Petty on the intro to ‘Save The Day’.

It’s two rockers who have always had a strong affinity with a more stripped back approach, dialling it down and keeping it simple. Opener ‘The Lines Are Open’ is so cool that it doesn’t walk…it glides. The subtle harmonica-as-a-train sound is a nice touch, and might just have you checking that your cans haven’t picked up some radio interference. ‘Aberfan’ is as raw and emotional as any song on the subject would be; ‘Dance In The Heart Of The Sun’ is a toe-tapper which features a gorgeous twin acoustic guitar tone; ‘Cannonball’ has enough to have them weeping on Music Row in Nashville, while ‘Little Hercules’ is simply life affirming.

Both voices are distinctive in their own rights, and here, they compliment each other perfectly. Each “lead” vocalist content to take a backseat and take on the role of “backing” vocalist while the other takes the lead. When they do pair up, the lush vocal harmonies are to die for. Could it be possible that two rock vocalists from decades gone by, sound stronger than ever? Reed and Vaughn are living proof that not all ‘90’s vocalists are past their prime and need studio trickery to create an illusion.

For listeners of a certain vintage, ‘Hurricane Riders’ is akin to getting home from a shitty day at work, ignoring whatever storm we are on this week, and slipping into something warm and comforting. If ever an album wanted to wrap you up and tell you that everything is going to be alright; it’s ‘Hurricane Riders’.

Available now on Townsend Music, purchase here.

Tour dates –

March 12: Putney, London, The Half Moon
March 13: Milton Keynes, The Craufurd Arms
March 14: Sheffield, Local Authority @ The Corporation
March 15: Newcastle Upon Tyne, The Cluny
March 17: Chester, The Live Rooms
March 18: Bristol, The Fleece
March 20: Aberdare, Wales, Jacs
March 21: Stoke On Trent, Eleven
March 22: Bilston, The Robin 2
March 24: Blackpool, The Waterloo
March 25: Glasgow, Cottiers Theatre
March 27: Manchester, Night People
March 28: Ballymena, NI, The Diamond

More information here.

Review – Dave

Photo credit – Mattias Bostrom

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