The core duo of Michael Sturm (acoustic guitar, vocals) and Hannah Rediske (accordion, whistle) have joined forces with Derek Jaimes (ex-Wild Colonial Bhoys) on drums, Drew Miller (Boiled in Lead) on bass guitar and Trevor Jurgens (veteran of the MN Punk and Rockabilly scenes) on electric guitar to create their greatest album to date.
The Devil or the Barrel opens with the original song “Whiskey Chaser” – one of four songs written by Michael on the album. Over the course of these thirteen tracks TLB mix and match a variety of influences which make up their sound. For example, the rambling American ballad “Rye Whiskey” (a.k.a. Jack O’Diamonds) shows Trevor’s quintessential Rockabilly stylings while also making room in the mix for for guest musician Dave Boquist (Son Volt) on 5-string banjo. The drunken violence at the core of the Irish trad song “Johnny Jump Up” is underpinned by Drew’s growling bass.
Also included on the album are new studio recordings of three songs that TLB released in 2011 on their live album Drunk, Sick, Tired. “All For Me Grog” (another dark take on an upbeat trad. song about the drink), “Johnny You’re A Roving Blade” and “Real Old Mountain Dew” all are significantly amped up. Going the other way, the band shows a light touch on “The Little Vagabond,” a William Blake poem which was originally put to music by Greg Brown. TLB took this uptempo bluegrassy song and ironically… slowed it down.