The weird thing about this long-established Sheffield band is the fact that you struggle to find an aspect about them that isn't obscurely normal. The group of up to nine musicians around songwriter and frontman Geoff Walsh, have been holding together for more than 10 years. Passionate common people with a great talent to share the oddities of being in a rock band with the ups and downs of everyday life. Over the years and three albums, Outroads has established a profound relationship between the music and the daily grind. 'I am happy' turned out to be a body of reference for all those, whose lives got in the way. Outspoken and tragic, inevitable, honest and mature, but never too serious. A natural paradox. The acme of non - Rock'n'Roll* delivers a contemporary status report of a whole generation of outstandingly talented and artistic individuals, who happen to have their lives together. Never mind this very peculiar disarray, these Sheffield lads and lasses have created a soundtrack that sounds as elemental as no one wants, but a lot have tried hard, to be.
With americana ingredients ranging from blues to folk and country, Walsh's raspy voice narrates in a distinctive northern English terminology. The band backs up playfully and gives this stoutly earthed album an enchanting and cheerful appeal. Instruments like piano, accordion, violin and slide guitar as well as multiple backing vocals can be heard, but never overload the sometimes quirky, sometimes minimalist song structures.
*Geoff Walsh sings and plays acoustic guitar. He is a sought-after tree surgeon, running his own business, climbing trees on an everyday basis. He has been married with social worker Kate Walsh (backing vocals), for ten years. On Sundays you can often find them in their allotment, cultivating or harvesting vegetables, or in their studio, creating new music.
Eddy Lomas (slide guitar, double bass and harmonica) is well known for his stupefying abilities on all three instruments. Especially as a harmonica player, he can look back on a list of records that he became part of. He runs a vintage clothing and accessory business and normally drives his camper van from festival to festival. Besides selling tasteful pre-worns, he repairs old record players and scooters. On stage he is always barefoot.
Richard Weston (electric guitar) and Geoff have had many disputes over the past ten years, who of the two the bigger Springsteen-fan is. He has walked around the earth many a time as a mailman for The Royal Mail. On his route he always listens to his iPod. When he comes home he plays his Telecaster that means everything to him.
Pete and Simon Roe (bass guitar and drums) are seasonal sellers of Christmas trees. Through diligence and immane hard work, they have managed to set up their own successful business. Pete is also a gardener and a collector of good guitars. Simon used to run a music school in Sheffield. He now partly lives in Spain.
Rhian Walsh (backing vocals) and Liz Lipscombe (violin) join the band, when their busy schedules allow them to. Rhian, Geoff's sister, is a singer and dedicated single mother. Liz is a professional musician, who mostly plays classical.
Winkie Thin (keys, accordion) is also an occasional member of the ensemble. Besides being known for his spontaneous and artistic whistling and ukulele performances, he is a passionate full - time musician and producer. He used to be a long time member of punk-pop paradoxon Chumbawumba.
If you ever get a chance to attend one of the rare Outroads live shows, you might be reminded of the heartwarming sound an old Jaguar XK. An engine - like band. The lyrical simplicity and soulful musicality certainly links to Johnny Cash and the 'Boss'. The music comes across coarse and lusty like a gypsy party. The band recorded 'I am happy' mostly with an odd 16 track hard-disk recorder from the nineties. Then the tracks got mixed in a studio in Hamburg, Germany where the album got picked up by the local label Labelship. Outroads are currently planning to play a few selected shows in September and October. Please check for dates on their websites.