VOLK has come a long way since members Chris Lowe (electric guitar, vocals) and Eleot Reich (drums, lead vocals) met in Germany circa 2013. Fast forward a few years and a plane trip to Nashville, they began to hit the road to share their music. During their travels (and various adventures), they slowly evolved their sound and look, into the band we now know. Reich tells of a pivotal moment: “I ran into a Goodwill during one tour, in Augusta, Georgia and bought this short blue sequin dress. The moment I put it on and sat down behind the drums that night, it’s like something clicked. From then on, we’ve been crystalizing our look, our feel. VOLK wouldn’t have become a band without Berlin. Likewise, it needed that next layer of American soil to pump blood into what was until then a partially realized dream.”
Now the duo have developed a reputation for honest music that ain’t messing around, blending so many different genres within their sound keeps the listeners on their toes. They say it’s “equal parts rock-roaring, twanging, honky tonking, acid- tripping, American-ing, and spaghetti western-ing”. It is a brief description of what to expect from their new album Cashville. Lowe explains, “Cashville provides a much wider spectrum of our sonic journey. It’s what we’ve been doing live for years encapsulated into an LP.” Let’s press play and find out what Cashville has to offer.
Opening the album is the amply named “Welcome to Cashville”. From the start, they kick the doors down and let the listener know that VOLK has arrived. The way the duo let their instruments off their leashes show that they mean business! Lyrically, a story summarised by the lines, “We took our drums and guitar to a damn techno bar / Them kids these days don’t dig swing and sway / Bar man said, excuse me ma’am, can’t bring that crap around / We traded rock’n’roll for all night DJ’s.” This song is all about its musical attitude. Lowe’s guitar is ferocious, and Reich’s drumming is relentless. Together, they create infectious energy that will bring down the house when performed live.
The mood changes with the arrival of “Little Games”. It offers a country-rock vibe with some great vocal work as both share the spotlight. Just for good measure, they let loose towards the latter part of the song. VOLK has slipped in a few of their classic tracks into the album, the first being “Honey Bee”. It is a great rock n roll filled track with Reich’s vocals are on top form. “I Fed Animals” delivers more rock goodness. But, this time, their lyrical talents steal the spotlight. As shown with the opening lines, “I fed animals waiting so long for you / One wink to the lion, did not know what else to do.” Again, Reich’s vocals are great to hear, again adds some attitude to the mood. Not to be outdone, Lowe’s guitar occasionally comes in to steal some attention.
Watch the video for “I Fed Animals” below
“Atlanta Dog” delivers more of their no messing style of rock. Not only that, but its hooks pack one hell of a punch. Then, another stand out moment from the album appears with “Old Palestine (TX)”. It is a song written about Lowe’s hometown. He doesn’t hold back as he shares words which he describes as “pointing a finger, at the ugly parts: a small East Texan town, just one of countless cities across the American South, unwilling to grapple with its hurtful legacies of racism and white supremacy; modern-day residents left trapped in an antebellum time warp, drowning in stagnant economies, crumbling infrastructures, and cultural vacuums, victims to corporate scavenging.”
The details within his words say so much and paint so many scenes. Highlighted with lines such as “Over long-empty homes and a busted streetlight” and “But Davey’s dogwoods have withered and died.” The depth of his song is impressive. The music is low key, letting the lyrics shine. As a result, it allows Reich’s gentle vocals to add so much emotion to Lowe’s story. It confirms that there is a lot to VOLK than bringing the noise. Following on comes “Yorkshire Girl”. A story about fun communication can be between two people from different countries.
VOLK are huge fans of Ray Wylie Hubbard, and their cover of his track “Snake Farm” shows it. They respect the original by keeping true to it but still giving their own unique spin. Afterwards comes “ETXorcism”, a captivating instrumental that lays the way for the outstanding “Revelator’s Bottleneck”. Its bluesy guitar intro ticks all the right boxes. Soon after, the pair let their vocals share the opening lines, “On the winding road / With a long, long way to go / With a busted headlight / And just a quarter of a tank to make it through the night.” Its lyrics have a devil’s crossroad feel, and it highlights yet again their storytelling qualities. However, this gets overshadowed when Lowe’s blues guitar is set loose.
‘Cashville’ is one wild ride of an album and showcases the depth of the songwriting by VOLK
“Eagle Eye” brings some country and western vibes. The reduction in lyrical content lets the duo showcase more of their musical talents and arrangements. For just the two of them, it feels big and cinematic. Bringing the album to a close is another classic of theirs, “Simple Western Song”. It begins with a beautiful guitar before Reich’s gentle vocals get the story started. She does so with the lines “A cigarillo for Eastwood at dusk / Trotting on towards the setting sun / And the film fades with a Simple Western Song.” It is a combination of the two that continues to its end. It is a gorgeous track that is a pleasure to hear. Again, it highlights the depth and range which VOLK offer with their music.
Cashville is the perfect showcase of what VOLK have to offer. Most people might only know their wilder side, but they can deliver so much more. The album highlights the depth of their lyrics and an impressive range of moods within their songs. It more than deserves the praise it will receive. So, press play and let their great music fill your eardrums!