Madison, Wisconsin roots-rock group, The Sharrows, recently released their sophomore effort Days of Yore. Officially out June 27, the EP is a follow-up to the group’s 2013 full-length Starting at the End and was recorded at Zebra Ranch in Coldwater, MS – the home studio of the North Mississippi Allstars.
Days of Yore gets things started with its driving lead track, “Yours and Mine”. The song acts as an introduction to the type of americana/rock you can expect to hear from the group while its style change and extended instrumental outro lay the stylistic groundwork for the remainder of the EP.
“Slips Away” slips in with a softer tone thanks to the acoustic guitar and cello and instantly feels more in line with traditional folk music than the heavier rock of the previous track. Joe Hermanson’s vocals feels perfectly at home within the song and the harmonies provided by cellist Sylvia Janicki throughout the chorus and bridge are simply wonderful. It isn’t until the song builds into its fairly uptempo outro that a lightly distorted guitar solo reminds you that you are still listening to a rock band.
Although it has a much different feel than the other four songs on Days of Yore, I found “Slips Away” to be the EP’s stand out track. As much as I enjoyed each song, I would love to hear The Sharrows explore more within this territory.
Distortion makes it return in “Echo” with the guitar and keys leading the instrumental portion of the track and contributing to the song’s more modern roots-rock vibe when compared to “Slips Away”. This ability to move seamlessly across the spectrum of such a wide and varied genre speaks volumes to the talents of the group. With the help of a few instrumental breaks, “Echo” clocks in at just over six minutes and features a fairly dramatic tempo/style change that lends the track a decidedly darker tone strengthened by a well-placed cello solo.
That tone continues into the storytelling track “Been There Before”. Punctuated by some fantastic moments that really accentuate Janicki’s cello playing, the track ends with an extended outro that allows each instrument time in the spotlight with a run of brief solos.
Days of Yore closes with its longest track by over two and half minutes, “Passionate Man”. The track makes heavy use of keyboardist Joe Hermanson and is reminiscent of Creedence Clearwater Revival at points. After a riff-heavy bridge the song slows near power ballad territory and launches into an extended guitar solo and instrumental outro on par with CCR’s eleven minute version of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”.
Overall, The Sharrows have managed to maintain a very cohesive tone within Days of Yore while allowing each track its own feel and momentum as it moves through the EP. If you enjoy any type of folk, americana or roots rock, I would highly suggest giving Days of Yore a listen.
You can download a digital copy of Days of Yore for just $6 through The Sharrow’s Bandcamp page, and if you’re in Chicago tonight, you can catch them opening for The Donkeys at The Hideout. Show starts at 9:00 PM and you can find all the pertinent details here.