John Wheeler

Album Title: 
Un-American Gothic
Release Date: 
Monday, February 4, 2013
Review Type: 

Yoú may have heard of John Wheeler as being the founder and frontman of the internationally known American “Rockgrass” band Hayseed Dixie [formed in 2000 to promote an album of adapted acoustic versions of AC/DC songs, the band went on to record nine more albums until 2011, all produced by Wheeler whom, besides singing, also plays acoustic guitar and piano, writes most of the band's song material, and has produced material by many other artists] to me he was an unknown until I started looking into the info about him and listened to this, his debut solo album.

Besides performing on the successful Hayseed Dixie tours and gigs, Wheeler has also performed as a solo artist. Coming off a 9-month tour with Hayseed in 2011 (which brought the counter of the amount of performances by the band past the 1,000 mark), the band took a hiatus for a much-needed breather, and it's in that period that Wheeler wrote the songs which would later become the Un-Amaeican Gothic album, songs he wrote from a perspective not needing that typical tonality of his character in Hayseed! Currently residing in the UK, he “recently” (I'm taking this from the artists' page on Wikipedia) appeared as a special guest on BBC Radio 2 programs including the Chris Evans Breakfast Show and Simon Mayo Drivetime, where he described his current musical approach as “acoustic-electric Jazz-Punk riding on the back of some Old-school Folk-funk”! As a prelude to the album, and to coincide with the American elections of last year, the single “Deeper In Debt” (a song inspired by a conversation about the bank crisis with Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention and Seasick Steve) was released in November 2012. Made from a surprising perspective, and sporting some rather socio-politically critical lyrics, the material came as a creative release to Wheeler, and should be welcome to people who're not afraid of a lot of acoustics.

For your introduction to the music, the album's listenable on Spotify. Digital downloads can be got all over the world through iTunes, and hard copies can be ordered from either Amazon and Rough Trade (hum...just in case you don't know your way around Spotify, you might find 30-second samples of the album's tracks on the album's page at both iTunes and Amazon – I ain't certain, as I haven't checked, you see?!).