Waller: ‘Promised Land’

Known for its edgy rocking alt. country style, Waller focuses on the “country” this time around.

On Saturday, Dec. 20, Atlanta-based Americana/roots band Waller celebrated the release of its brand-new CD Promised Land. Featuring a new lineup and a somewhat different sound, the album is frontman Jason C. Waller’s first real attempt at an almost all-acoustic, traditional, and somewhat folky sound, and it works well.

The past two years has been a time of change for Waller, with multiple departures and new members coming and in and out of the group’s lineup. Known about town and beyond for its edgy rocking style of alt. country, the band focuses a lot more on the “country” side of its songwriting this time around. Recording most of the material live at Zachary Caplan’s RockShop ATL studio, Waller is joined by bassist Justin Roberts of Blair Crimmins’ Hookers fame, pedal steel player Jonny Daly, and fiddler Wes McElmoyle. Caplan adds some fine guitar work as well, and vocalist Nancy Kaye Hill brings her sweet harmonies to “Morning Birds.”

Moving in a more thoughtful and expansive direction with his songwriting, Waller focuses his attention on Southern imagery and events, and his plaintive vocals capture the depth of his words. The angsty “Kingfisher’s Brother,” and “Morning Birds’” gothic undertones are fine representatives of his abilities, but it’s not all darkness and gloom. The single, “Bluebird Baby,” is an uptempo funky swing job, with energy that is sure to bring up a smile and get the toes to tapping.

There has been some criticism of the surge in this particular style of music, and granted, the market is flooding. It’s a signifier of the times, and in the ‘60s every other guy had a rocking garage band, and this time it’s rootsy throwbacks. But as long as it’s as good as Promised Land, keep it coming.

4 stars