album reviews

Sons of Bill
A Far Cry From Freedom
Independent (2007)

Three-fifths of the Charlottesville band Sons of Bill are brothers. But don't expect the Isleys or the Finns: The Wilson brothers kick off their debut album with "Back to the Time," a country rocker that recalls Son Volt's catchier moments infused with a healthy dose of small-town nostalgia ("Take me back to the time/When the end of the world was the county line/There's nothing on my mind/But loving you and a bottle of cheap red wine").

But those rural recollections aren't always so wistful; the Sons describe the downsides of such an isolated existence. From their reflections that "life, it seems to keep on drifting" ("Makin' It Through the Night") to their sketches of slow-paced town living chalked up as "just another wasted day" ("My Hometown"), the Sons paint a picture of a small-town upbringing that captures both homesickness and recent worldliness.

"Far Cry" isn't always so pensive, though; from their tale of post-breakup hell-raising ("Ballad of Middle-Aged Heartache") to a boot-stomping flee from Texas ("Texas"), the Sons showcase their sense of humor as well as their ability to craft a catchy narrative, two skills that make for a captivating and entertaining debut album.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 14 December 2007, Page WE07