Tenderloud - Shadow Red Hand (2004)

Shadow Red Hand
1 1956
2 Pass Me By
3 Liquor Eyes
4 Happy Days - The Feast
5 White Lines
6 45 Mile Man
7 Horses of the Woods
8 Shadow Red Hand
9 Texas Down
10 Down My Way
11 Old River Town
12 Kneeling Heart

Introduction

There isn't much I could find about Tenderloud. What is known is that they started in the early 2000s and quickly built a following thanks to intense live gigs. In 2004 they released their debut album "Shadow Red Hand" and 2007 was meant to be the year of the follow up record, but several members leaving the band ended in some kind of hiatus instead. "Gospel Ticket" finally saw the light of day in 2012 as an digital exclusive album.

The Sound

The album starts with "1965" and instantly sets the tone for the overall sound. This seems to be a Country album. Americana to be more precise, the darker brother of your usual Country. But something is different here. The drums start playing and wow, these are some dynamic sounding drums. Nice to hear some sane produced album. The vocals do remind of David Eugene Edwards, almighty vocalist of 16 Horsepower and Wovenhand, the first being the band most people associate with the so-called Alternative-Country scene.

Tenderloud fall into the same category but there is a small but important detail that makes a huge difference. The band has two hearts beating, the mellow, Roots-driven and the crunchy guitar lovin' one. In their louder moments Tenderloud resemble The Gun Club in some moments and early 90s Seattle sound in others. The whole mixture works to their benefit and soundwise this is as good as it can get...

...which wouldn't be worth much if the songs don't work. Luckily Tenderloud seem to have it all. A dynamic mastering with just the right tone for each instrument, a healthy mixture of musical styles, a good vocalist and yes, a talented songwriter to bring it all together. Just listen to second track "Pass Me By", the first highlight of the album. It has a banjo melody that instantly sticks and a refrain that just kicks. And this is only the start. Follow up "Liquor Eyes" has a Polka vibe to it without losing any of the bands controlling nature to keep the song in its well defined barriers. The album keeps on with standout after standout, "Happy Days", "White Lines" and "45 Mile Man" are single-worthy and personal favorite "Horses of the Woods" could have been included on the "Singles Soundtrack" easily.

The band manages to keep up that momentum until the very end. Tenderloud may be quite an unknown band, but they surely created something outstanding here which I consider to be one of the very best albums of the whole Alternative Country movement.

Recommended tracks: "Horses of the Woods", "45 Mile Man", "White Lines", "Happy Days"

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