Streets of Laredo – Hey Rose

Despite obvious problems with their national rugby union side, I have a massive soft spot for Kiwis. I didn’t know this bunch were from NZ (albeit now based in Brooklyn in New York), but I’m also a sucker for country and a bit of folk and their name seemed to fit that bracket. I was thinking Van Morrison’s “Streets of Arklow” transposed to Nashville. Well, Laredo is in Texas and “Streets of Laredo” is a folk/country ballad (although I haven’t managed to fully Google-decode quite what its origins are) so I was at least partly on the mark. “Hey Rose” starts off with a peal of something (I’m guessing accordion…) like the start of Paul Simon’s “The Boy in the Bubble”. From there, via some spectral noises and strumming guitar we seem to be heading into ramshackle cosmic country, before we settle into a good-natured bouncing interplay between drums and guitars. There’s also a lovely touch of wobbling bass underneath it all that gives the song a subtle extra degree of forward momentum.

The male and female voices do what they ought to: combine and play around each other to maximising effect, delivering some nice couplets such as “I’ve been seeing stars/trying to play my natural game/I’m waiting for the wind to change/I’m hoping Rose that you feel the same”. Did I mention that there are handclaps ? And some pleasingly home-made drum sounds (like they just came upon some packing crates or barrels…) ? The devils; they’ve been reading up on how to push my buttons.

I do wonder whether a bit of extra trimming might not be in order – I don’t dislike the increasingly instrumental last minute but I’m not sure how much it adds. The final rocking out of the track in particular feels a little bit tagged-on, even if there are some elements that link things through (those strange, swirling noises for example). I don’t think a song with such a consistent and coherent beginning needs to end this way, with an extended wordless outro taking us away from the sentiments and the story. It’s no biggy though.

“Hey Rose” can be found on Streets of Laredo’s forthcoming EP “Volume II” (you can get “Volume I” through their bandcamp page) which will be released on November 22nd.

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