On July 10th, Germany based NORTH ALONE released their new album, Cure & Disease, an eleven track offering of singer/songwriter punky folkness fronted by Manuel North. Recorded in Osnabrück (where the full five-piece band call home) at DocMaKlang studio (Chuck Ragan, Tim Vantol), the album features guest vocals from John E. Carey Jr. (Old Man Markley) and Ian Cook (Larry And His Flask).
From the album’s opening title track, two things are unavoidably clear; first of all, the band’s music is distinctive and powerful for their use of the fiddle, with this being the main factor that sets NORTH ALONE from being a bulked up version of one-man-and-his-guitar. Second of all, there’s a Frank Turner-esque edge to the album, which swells as the record continues. Cure & Disease launches the album with frantic Tim Vantol-esque energy, only exemplified by the brilliant addition of a fiddle solo, which continues into infectious The Last Inch.
Warming things up slower with Black Water, the gravelly edge to Manuel’s voice shines through against the gloss of the fiddle whilst Some Other Day inspires a Flogging Molly style enthusiasm in the opening’s instrumental, once again allowing the fiddle to dance over the rest of the pacey instrumental, touching down at the staccato pulses that break up the song.
Snappy Hydrogen Peroxide is sandwiched by the guest vocalists’ offerings – Scatter My Ashes Into The Sea sees Ian Cook contribute in the determination of the song, and Old Dog Barking appeals to Frank Turner meta lyricism with support from John E. Carrey Jr. Missing Heart Shadow takes its place as my personal favourite off the album with the soaring, open-windows-on-a-road-trip atmosphere that the country twang of the NORTH ALONE’s music inspires.
Greetings From Someone Else provides the token melancholy number, before minute and a half blast Inscription crams in a fierce amount of energy. Closing The Road Most Traveled again hits the Tim Vantol/Frank Turner midpoint – look at the discussion of punk and the closing gang vocals if you need evidence in support of this.
If you’re a fan of a full band’s worth of singer/songwriter work, you’ll probably like NORTH ALONE, with their fiddle adoration and frantic pace adding an Irish, Flogging Molly tint to the colour.