As the music we consume from popular artists includes more and more intricate production and electronic elements, it feels nice to hear something laid back and purely honest once in a while. English countrymen August Bag are there to fill that gap. Focusing solely on acoustic guitar picking and vocals, I must say that the Country Blues E.P. feels like a breath of fresh air. I couldn’t explicitly tell what artists might have influenced this project, but it definitely reminds me of the stripped-down works of Daniel Johnston with a healthy-dose of melodies reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel. Consisting of just four songs and coming in under nine minutes, this release works perfectly as a gateway into August Bag’s other works.
As mentioned earlier, Country Blues E.P. is a no-frills, easy-listening experience. Which is always good when the mainstream perception of the country genre is typically extravagant and overwhelming. Aside from the occasional guitar line, this is as bare-bones of an album as you can get, and I mean that in the best way possible. The art of performing your songs for what they are, without any sonic supplement, is greatly appreciated on tracks such as “A Man Passing Through” and “The Voyage.” The occasional environmental noise adds to the grassroots vibe and surely wouldn’t sound the same with a big production. In fact, August Bag claims that they perform all their songs outside, and that the environment is an integral part of the creative process. Truly an interesting approach.
If I have to be critical, I could only really suggest that August Bag continue in their stripped-down approach while exploring more complex, fleshed-out ballads and songs. I’d love to hear how far they can push their creativity in the context of a bigger release. However, for the purpose of a four-song EP, these tracks really hit the nail on the head. The vocals are confident and the guitar playing is on par with most old-school bluesmen such as Doc Watson.
I highly recommend this EP for a short moment of quiet, soothing sounds. Although August Bag keeps a low profile, I definitely hear the broad appeal of their music and I look forward to discovering more from the Leicester natives.
Written by Davide Spinato
*Edited by Chris Aitkens