Home > News & Reviews > Sons Of Bill

Sons of Bill - Oh God Ma'am (Album Review)

Thursday, 12 July 2018 Written by Simon Ramsay

Almost everything you need to know about the remarkable transformation Virginia siblings Sons of Bill have undergone on ‘Oh God Ma’am’ can be gleaned from its album cover. An old-fashioned colour TV lies on the floor, smashed and surrounded by dirt, its shadow eclipsing the light. The screen shows a grinning, optimistic, all American kid, his image bisected by the shattered screen. The dream, as they say, is over.

Following 2014’s breakout record ‘Love & Logic’ the band – in particular the Wilson brothers Abe, James and Sam - were struck by  divorce, addiction, mental illness and a potentially career-ending hand injury. The sleeve serves as the perfect metaphor for those tribulations, reflecting why such events have morphed Sons of Bill’s up-tempo Americana rock ‘n’ roll sound into something lyrically deeper, darker, more emotionally bruised and sonically complex.

Boasting an awareness that what they’ve undergone isn’t so much bad fortune as much as it is the dawning of adulthood, this record plays out like a funeral for the band’s youth.

That’s epitomised by a jaw-dropping opening track that, although not stylistically congruent with the rest of the record, sets a fittingly haunted mood.  

Sweeter, Sadder, Farther Away, is a stark piano ballad with cerebral, poetic rhyming couplets giving voice to an indefinable terror that may or may not culminate in suicide or murder. Crucially, its tale of doomed romance is told with a detached wistfulness and melancholy that encapsulates the record’s overarching tone.

In many ways ‘Oh God Ma’am’ exists in its own time and space, much like the band members who are caught between post-adolescent anxiety and a sense of sage acceptance. There are strains of the Stone Roses, the Pretenders, New Order and Echo and The Bunnymen on Believer / Pretender, Old And Gray and Where We Stand, as a range of styles and eras collide.

And whether it’s jangling guitars that recall both the Smiths and the Byrds, the pulsing indie-rock grooves that power Firebird ‘85 or dreamy psychedelia on Signal Fade, the record boasts an outstanding sound (especially the drums) thanks to producers Phil Ek and Sean Sullivan.

For all the new colourings, the band’s trademark Americana vocals remain, only there’s an ethereal and ghostly quality to the harmonic interplay on the David Gilmour-esque Green To Blue and outstanding Good Mourning (They Can’t Break You Now). Resembling Bruce Springsteen’s Tougher Than The Rest, its patient tempo, heart-on-denim-sleeve sentiments and electronic sighs epitomise a record that’s quietly anthemic.

‘Oh God Ma’am’ will resonate deeply with anyone who’s spent long, lonesome nights lost in contemplation, fighting to process adulthood’s irreconcilable complexities and responsibilities while mourning the loss of a carefree existence.  Although mining bleak territory, there’s comfort in these songs because they paint familiar events and experiences in a way that’s so artistically compelling - lyrically literate and ambiently beautiful - it’s hard not to feel cleansed by them.

Sons Of Bill Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon August 13 2018 - BRIGHTON Hope & Ruin
Tue August 14 2018 - LONDON Omeara
Wed August 15 2018 - BRISTOL Tunnels
Thu August 16 2018 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Fri August 17 2018 - GLASGOW Broadcast
Sat August 18 2018 - MANCHESTER Soup Kitchen
Sun August 19 2018 - NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms

Click here to compare & buy Sons Of Bill Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!

You May Also Like:

Never Bored: Ugly-Pop Band Skating Polly Discuss Life On Tour
Mon 10 Sep 2018
Wanderlust is a word usually associated with gap years and middle aged people who want a fancy way of saying they’re bored with the life they’ve made for themselves.
Grin Through The Dark Stuff: The Dirty Nil Return With The Mighty 'Master Volume'
Tue 11 Sep 2018
Towards the end of Pain of Infinity, one of the singles from the Dirty Nil’s new record ‘Master Volume’, Luke Bentham drawls “and another thing, baby...” before ripping a guitar solo. He gets back to the microphone in time to yell: “I never loved you and I hate your friends.” The frontman is inconsiderately handsome, and has been known to play a Gibson Les Paul mid-knee slide while chewing bubblegum and wearing a star-spangled denim cowboy shirt.
Light, Love and Lineage: Amy Helm Keeps Her Family's Fire Burning
Thu 27 Sep 2018
Photo: Ebru Yildiz To some people music is much more than just a form of entertainment or artistic expression. On her latest solo album ‘This Too Shall Light’ Amy Helm, daughter of the Band’s legendary singing drummer Levon Helm and singer-songwriter Libby Titus, has not only crafted a beautiful collection of gospel-infused Americana gems, but also a record with a rich sense of heritage dripping from every note.
New Faces, New Sound: How Federal Charm Moved Forwards on 'Passenger'
Tue 18 Sep 2018
Imagine being in a rock ‘n’ roll band with two albums under your belt and a fistful of big-name support slots in the bank. Imagine you spent the best part of a decade building a fanbase. Then, just as you’re preparing to make that all important third album, imagine waving goodbye to half the group. Do you wallow in self-pity? Wave the white flag and call it quits? Or recruit two new members and bounce back with your strongest album to date.
Stop Standing Still: The Goon Sax Evolve On The Rich, Ambitious 'We're Not Talking'
Mon 17 Sep 2018
Photo: Ben O'Connor Louis Forster keeps forgetting something. He’s at his band’s rehearsal room picking up some gear. They’re going on tour; landing in London and moving on to an opening night in Glasgow after the long trip over from Brisbane. They’re pretty much good to go.
Making A Big Noise Is Fun: Inside The Weird And Wonderful World Of HMS Morris
Wed 26 Sep 2018
Let’s start with some advice from Heledd Watkins and Sam Roberts, who are the backbone of the Welsh-speaking, genre-melding psych-pop band HMS Morris: “Expect the unexpected.”
Attan - End Of (Album Review)
Wed 19 Sep 2018
Attan released their debut EP, ‘From Nothing’, three years ago. There wasn’t a whole lot of fanfare, just positive rumblings and a few ‘ones to watch’ recommendations. Anyone who saw the band during that period got it, though. The Norwegians’ sludge-tinged, blackened hardcore was radicalised in the live arena as vocalist Remi Semshaug Langseth went walkabout during the cathartic seven minute epic Edward. He screamed in faces, slapped his heart onto his sleeve and then carved it open for all to see.
It's Important To Put Back Into The Scene: Introducing The Jazz-Flecked Style of Oscar Jerome
Mon 24 Sep 2018
Photo: Dashti Jafar “I am a strong believer that if you go into making art with a predefined idea of what you want it to be,” Oscar Jerome says. “Your art will never achieve its full potential.”
< Prev   Next >