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The Waybacks

Loaded – 2008 (Compass)

Reviewed by Dave Bagdade

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The Waybacks underwent a major lineup shift since their label debut two years ago with the departure of fingerstyle guitarist Stevie Coyle and the addition of fiddler Warren Hood to the core of guitarist James Nash, bassist Joe Kyle and drummer Chuck Hamilton.

The new four-piece lineup signals three major changes. The first is that Nash, an acoustic whiz, is playing much more electric. The second is a much more streamlined muscular sound. There is still the usual wide range of stylistic influences, ranging from Cajun and Memphis soul to swing, country and even a Celtic shanty. However, the band has transitioned to more of an underlying rock feel than previously. The third is that fiddler Hood, at the ripe old age of 24, shows himself to be a fine singer and writer as well; indeed, the writing credits are split evenly between Hood and Nash. Interestingly, the new guy contributes the tune most closely resembling something off the band's earlier albums, the stunning Gypsy instrumental "Black Cat."

Although The Waybacks' move from bluegrass and acoustic music to full-blown Americana is now complete on their fifth release, there is plenty here to appeal to fans of old on a fine album by a truly excellent band.