I distinctly recall another critic once asking me what the hell was going to happen if punk ever invaded folk music. It was an interesting question, seemingly illogical—I mean…punk and folk???—kinda like the notion of putting amphetamines in your sleeping pills, but, thinking upon it, the guy had laid his finger athwart something no one else was pondering. Well, with Lincoln Has Won, the debut from The Habit, the inquiry finds an answer. The unifying force tends to be Siobhan Glennon's sensitive and talented vocals, around which the band (she also plays keyboards) rallies in lively fashion, fidelities cleaving to the underlying structures and tenor but injecting the same kind of gnarled energy that resulted in cowpunk.
The jagged spiky guitar solo in Ballad Of, the second cut, is the first indication of just how contrastily the group can bend convention and get away with it nicely, reappearing later in Don't Grow Old, Young Man, where raging male vocals (three of the four gents sing, so I've no idea who's featured up front on this one) lead the guitar back in to set the brush afire for an extended bout. It's 60s psychedelic but bedded in crashing punky segment shifts that run into the very 80s-ish Blood on the Saddle, raw but akin to old Dylan, Ochs, and some of the ancient Village crowd, a blending long overdue.
In contrast, Cowboys and Canyons is beautiful, breathtaking, a stripped-down from-the-heart lament dusty with endless prairies, hot sun, baking gorges, and weary pioneers coming to trail's end. The simplest of the collection of songs, it's brilliant, the quiet heart of just how well these musicians understand what it is they're about. Then comes Pennies for Eyes, even more deconstructed, just voice and guitar, and we're able to take a gander at the naked rage and madness that waited just beneath the gingham and lace for those whom Fortune did not favor in those days. For a debut effort, Lincoln has Won is surprising, colliding 80s energy and the Lone Justice movement with a genuine roots firmament that results in a far better evocation of the blend than most of the erstwhile 80s Wave exemplars ever achieved.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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