Sons of Bill at Bush Hall
From the very beginning of their concert last night, it was abundantly clear the three brothers – Sam, Abe and James Wilson – who front Sons of Bill are incredibly accomplished performers. Frontmen Sam and James were both able to manage an unadulterated command of the stage through their music, starting without any unnecessary rambling directed at the generationally diverse audience that so many artists fall prey to. Within the first two songs, Sam and James proved they were both equally comfortable undertaking the roles of lead and backup vocals. Starting with the beautifully layered, acoustically-driven steel picking melodies of brother Sam Wilson on Road to Canaan.
Sons of Bill showed their musical maturity from the very beginning with this emotionally charged and expertly performed song before switching frontmen and moving into heavier, mid-South psychedelia-inspired Lost In the Cosmos and Brand New Paradigm. Sam Wilson’s lead guitar was both strikingly haunting and excitingly abrasive, moving between distant melodies set in heavy delay to skilfully performed distorted guitar solos with ease. The brothers real treasure were their three party vocal harmonies led by James Wilson, presenting the audience with an incredibly charming insight into their unique ability.
Moving into an interlude of blues-inspired acoustic guitar, Sons of Bill presented a whole new dimension to their sound in Fishing Song. Similar to Henry Thomas’ Fishin’ Blues, Fishing Song is an elegantly powerful and tastefully written ballad about loneliness and isolation. It also represented a well-earned break for drummer Todd Wellons, who proved his musicianship from the very beginning, clearly influenced by varying genres and able to comfortably slip between jazz and heavy rock styles.
Sons of Bill are in dangerous territory in regards to the matter of their diversity: musically they show an incredible range, but lyrically they are somewhat consistent in their Virginia roots. They write about what they know and attach strong emotional and geographical connotations, which is what any recording artist should strive for. Finishing with an encore, Sam Wilson performed his acoustic ode to romance in Radio Can’t Rewind before the band ended on an intensely powerful and particularly unique cover of Neil Young’s Unknown Legend.
Sons of Bill are touring in Europe again in October and will be visiting London, which will be well worth witnessing for any fan of melodic Americana. By October their new album material will be incredibly well practised and, conceivably, they will manage to put on an even more impressive performance than they already have.
For further information about Sons of Bill and upcoming events visit here.
Watch the video for Siren Song here: