London’s Treetop Flyers return with their fourth long player, Old Habits. This, the follow-up to 2018’s critically adored eponymous record, sees the band at their everyman blues best.
Released on Loose, Old Habits fits the stable’s mantra of soulful modern country blues as similarly heard on stablemate Israel Nash’s Topaz, released last March.
The press blurb handed out has them “channelling influences from the likes of The Faces, Van Morrison and The Who”, which is a bit of a stretch. Treetop Flyers sit more comfortably in the esteemed company of The Hold Steady or Drive-By Truckers. The tracks on Old Habits are abundant in frenetic energy and would be appreciated best in small sweaty bars from the US midwest to the UK midlands.
The difference of course with Treetop Flyers is their British roots. The video for lead single, Castlewood Road, was shot in guitarist Laurie Sherman’s base (in his parents house) in Hackney. While lead singer, Reid Morrison says of home: “There has been many a British song about places where people lived or grew up and this [record] is our kinda take on that.” The song pays homage to the warmth of home and the band’s togetherness in its safe space – “Make the coffee strong / leave the music on / I’m coming home.”
On 100, there are similar themes of watching the crazed world outside from the comfort of home and questioning whether stepping outside is worth it: “100 bullets crying / 100 women wailing / but it means nothing if nobody cares.”
At ten tracks, the album is blessedly compact and short on filler content. Only the boogie of Cool Your Jets with its by-numbers E Street Band effort momentarily spoils the party.
Even where the lyrics stray into the realms of being corny (“Slow day, nothing going my way / keep on heading down this track” from the title track), Morrison’s vocal range and the band’s ability to tone down to delicate moments of Harrison-esque wimsy save the day.
Old Habits is a warm record, which will please many a boomer and millennial alike. While hardly pushing any envelopes, the band have created a record in both homage and appreciation to a more analogue time. Sherman’s guitar work is gifted but never indulgent, while Morrison’s voice sounds like it’s been around since the dawn of MOR. Lyrically, this band often channels The Band and is all the better for its down-home quality. Old habits, indeed die hard but in the case one hopes not at all.