Black Water County — The Only Life Worth Living (Self Released)

There’s an addictive quality to Black Water County’s heady fusion of folk, rock and punk.

And once you’ve unlocked the Pandora’ Box that is The Only Life Worth Living, it’s the only album worth listening to.

Standout singles including the title track, Cruel State Of Mind and Second Guessing (featuring Creeper’s Hannah Greenwood) have become familiar fan favourites.

And last month’s Red Hot Track Of The Week — the superior Here We Go Again — is one of the alt rock anthems of the year.

Dual vocalists Shan Byrom and Tim Harris have found that happy knack of bouncing off each other to beautiful effect.

It’s a partnership that purrs.

The duo’s nuanced dovetailing — lyrically and sonically — is what sets Black Water County apart.

Throw in liberal sweeps of Byrom’s trademark tin whistle (an instrument sorely lacking within the rock sphere) and who can resist this band without boundaries?

Banjo and mandolin drive the UK’s Hillbilly Green Day to new heights.

And The Only Life Worth Living emerges as the triumphant sound of a five-piece that’s found its sweet spot.

Suddenly 2017 debut Taking Chances seems like the calm before the storm.

Its furious follow-up is more assured, more visceral and more focused. More the merrier.

The County lines have been redrawn: this is the new roadmap to rock nirvana.

Second Guessing, first rate

New to Black Water County and the band’s brand of brash folk punk?

Skip to festival-ready fist-pumpers Cruel State Of Mind and the delicious Disasters.

But for a revealing snapshot of this ambitious act’s true potential there’s no better place to start than with that lauded Greenwood collab.

The voice of Creeper has become synonymous with haunting, hallowed melody.

And she’s the perfect fit for a stripped down, stirring, stadium-sized slow burner.

On Second Guessing, Greenwood and Byrom hit the brakes and look inward.

It’s a glorious, reflective and ultimately rousing duet that doesn’t disappoint.

It’s the penultimate track here but there’s a case for claiming Black Water County save the best until last.

Set closer Limelight is almost festive in its feel with a celebratory horn section playing off Harris’ soothing tone.

Like so much of this aspirational band’s best work it’s a song that benefits from an unpredictable twist (no spoilers here).

But that’s Black Water County in a nutshell.

Unafraid to experiment, excited to evolve and determined to succeed, their strength is their conviction. 

Punk-fuelled folk rock never sounded so cool.

Main band image by Georgia Penny