Trying to think of things that Hampshire is famous for represents something of a challenge. Apart from a couple of football clubs, a county cricket side, a natty looking Cathedral that The New Vaudeville Band sang about a long time ago and way too many Conservative MPs, there's not much to go on.
That may change soon, with the emergence of Ward Thomas, AKA twin sisters Cathy and Lizzie Ward Thomas who release their Americana/Country EP Footnotes on April 7th 2014. The mini-album was recorded in Nashville, where the duo have spent much of the last two years recording with top country players Bobby Blazier, Dan Dugmore and Chris Rodriquez. Now they're looking to break into their home market here in the UK.
The Good And the Right is the full blooded lead off track with a fiddle led wall of sound and a barn storming chorus. If the intention is make you sit up and take notice, it's entirely successful. The title track follows, a gentler affair with sweet harmonies and a sound not far from Alison Krauss, or Larkin Poe, if you're looking for comparison with a similar generation.
Take That Train, with a piano riff reminiscent of Jessica by The Allman Brothers Band completes a hat-trick of highly likeable songs and is inspired by Lizzy's brief encounter with a stranger on that mode of transport who confided her whole life story.
Last and definitely least is a cover of Caledonia. There's nothing wrong with the rendition, it's just that with so many versions around, Dougie MacClean's composition has become a viable alternative to doing jury service. The pair's desire to demonstrate that they aren't a one trick pony, concerned only with their own material is understandable, but there's enough variation on the EP without it.
Still, three out of four ain't bad, as one over-fed, over the top US rock singer once almost said, and if Ward Thomas can reproduce the quality of this release over a full album, then we'll be hearing a lot more of them in future.