Irish folk ensemble Oki’s Wagon was originally formed in January of 2013 by guitarist Naoise Hayden, bassist Shane Fitzgerald and banjo player Conor Shanley. The trio were soon joined by vocalist Audrey Gleeson, guitarist Shane Comiskey and percussionist Dan Stuart to gets things off the ground by completing their line-up. Since then, the band have taken to the stage at a number of renowned national events and venues, including Electric Picnic, the Jack of Diamonds Festival, Whelan’s and Sweeney’s.
Most recently however, they’ve finally unleashed their debut album, A Curious Dose, upon the world. The ten track endeavour explodes to life with the rapid and rousing instrumentation of “Horror Chord”, which continues to accelerate and excite behind some vigorous vocals. Its relentless rhythm is irresistibly enthralling, managing to get the compilation off to a characterful commencement.
“Shake” eases the momentum somewhat next but maintains a quirky conviction. A variety of enthusiastic musical motifs set an avid ambience alongside an energetic and expressive melody, resulting in another captivating composition. It’s followed by the reserved riff of “Bottom of the Stairs”, which strolls into low and solemn vocals before the whole thing proceeds to move forward slowly but steadily. It all amounts to a biting ballad, whose mellow mood is quite stirring.
“Still of the Night” is a hushed and haunting addition afterwards. The instrumentation conveys an emotional edge, while the soft and sombre harmony is full of poignancy and passion. “The Gab of the Geese” heads back in a more upbeat direction in its wake, with bustling banjo work and lively guitars and percussion. These run merrily through bright and buoyant vocals that really resonate.
There’s a tranquil touch to “Sister Drifts” as it arrives as a very sobering undertaking. The warm and riveting banjo of “Town of Misery” eventually takes over to thrill on the approach to a vivacious verse that ups the tempo and establishes an ecstatic air. The wonderfully vibrant vocals of “Lonely Eyes” succeed it, resounding across some playful instrumentation to forge an easy and elated effort, loaded with earnestness and intimacy.
A frantic banjo barrage prefaces a distorted melody that penetrates deep despite its distant sound as “Which May” starts off. It eventually bursts into vivid vocals which hit hard with their power and ferocity. “Time Flies” takes over then, serving as a simple song that brings the record to a moving and memorable conclusion.
Oki’s Wagon have crafted a splendid debut album that carries plenty of charm and charisma. Its exhilarating and active instrumental work ensures it’s never dull or monotonous, while its spirited vocals keep it gripping throughout.