“Bear Wires” by UK’s Folk-Rock Pioneers
Cheshire-based folk/country/rock band the Bear Wires – Glyn Roberts and John Miller – are so named as they refer to the mascot of the market town of Congleton where they first met and recorded most, of their debut album. They had previously released a couple of singles in 2022 – ‘A Hard Year’ (of course with a graphic of the COVID-19 virus in case you were not sure of the theme) and ‘Come On In’, both of which feature on the album.
The non-commercial approach to the release of the album is laudable, with the proceeds from CD sales and streaming revenue being split between the East Cheshire Hospice and St David’s Hospice in Gwynedd. The album is titled to reflect the ‘crazy amount of time’ that Roberts spends crossing and recrossing the English/Welsh border for family reasons.
Also worthy of note is that Bear Wires have released beautifully put-together and high-quality videos for each of the tracks, available, naturally, on their YouTube channel.
The album opens with ‘Highest Ever Tide’, topically about a climate change denier caught out by rapid sea level change. The track starts with mariachi-style brass (which repeats through the track) over a mid-tempo beat with good acoustic and electric guitar sounds. ‘A Hard Year’ follows, the song was written during and about the pandemic, lamenting the lack of credence given to the warnings of the virus and its impact on all. Slower in pace with nice guitar work.
‘Thundering Horses’ tells the story of a mountain farmer escaping to the valley to find love, as the band tell us “We love a ‘story’ song”. The sound is mellow and the beat easy paced. Similarly, ‘Come On In’, is about the value of trust and friendship and features a twin guitar solo.
‘Make a Little Room’ is a cover of the track by Welsh musician Al Lewis and Sarah Howells and brings back the trumpet for the intro and again feature throughout the track. The melancholy ‘Burning Bridges’ turns our attention to the futility of the war currently waging in Europe and is “dedicated to all the people who have lost their lives or been hurt or displaced”.
The pace is picked up a little with ‘Love’s a Little White Lie’ about “the cynicism of male youth about relationships” and has a nice bluesy guitar solo. The subject of tensions and resulting domestic violence when relationships go bad is brought to us in ‘Before It Gets Too Late’. The accompanying video comes with a warning on the content and is hard to watch.
‘Battles’ is another cover of an Al Lewis/Sarah Howells track, returning to the theme of young men going to war. Nicely recorded guitars and drums with trumpet work over it. ‘In Our Old Town’ has a real country feel to it, before the album closes with its title track ‘Crossing Borders’.
The album is full of nicely put-together songs with heart felt lyrics, is well recorded and the instrumentation is top quality as are the accompanying videos. If I have to be critical, the vocals while thoughtful and contain some nice harmonies are not up to the overall quality of the album.