When I think of Acid Folk, I picture a stoned (probably bearded) singer-songwriter recounting outcast experiences and sharing hopeful peace’n’love vibes. The Yonder Boys don’t really fit into this pigeonhole. Their debut album’s title references the psychedelic feel of the band’s ideas and experiments but is not particularly spacey or out there.
Instead, the Berlin-based trio have a sound that swings between Americana banjo melodies, fingerstyle guitar and smooth harmonies. Although the three boys met and operate from Germany, they originate from somewhere yonder and share a fondness for Bluegrass.
David Stewart Ingleton (vocals, banjo) is Australian, Jason Serious (vocals, guitar) is American and Tomás Peralta (vocals, mandolin, lap steel, banjo, bass) is from Chile. The mainly acoustic sound is augmented by guest musicians and vocalists, including Héloïse Lefebvre (violin), Sebastian Hoch (harmonica), Matías Ignacio Piñeira (tuba, trumpet), Shiomi Kawaguchi (shamisen), Han Sato (tenor saxophone) and Sebastián Villegas (French horn).
There’s quite a lively range of influences and styles. The opening track Rabbit Song explains the cover painting of bunnies pursued by hunters. The Great American Pussy Grab has a finger clicking 60s mood despite relating to Trump’s infamous video. The grab is a fairy tale gone awry: “Oh my what big and terrible hands you have /All the better to feel you baby.”
Look At What You’ve Done is a 2 minute yee-haw cowboy romp while Mosey On Down is a sassy and soulful sax number. The most obvious link to tradition comes with House Carpenter a much covered 17th Century Scottish ballad that featured on Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk music where it was performed by Clarence ‘Tom’ Ashley. Yonder Boys bring a more somber edge to the cautionary tale of doomed love. Il Pesce Spada closes proceedings with a Sicilian chant.
Overall, the album offers an engaging and eclectic mix of tunes where the highs seem natural rather than drug fuelled.
Yonder Boys’ website