Home New music in our mailbox! Album review: The Western Swing Authority – 12 to 6 Central

Album review: The Western Swing Authority – 12 to 6 Central


Gordy the moose reviews some of his favourite new submissions to the Roots Music Canada virtual mailbox.

It feels a little strange to hear the Western Swing Authority refer to their new album, released on Feb. 9, as a “coming-of-age project,” after some 15 years of recording together.

A person could be left with the mistaken impression that the band once sucked or something.


The band members were all A-list session players long before they started WSA.

Fiddler Shane Guse has performed with George Canyon, Jason McCoy, Colin James and Richard Marx, for crying out loud.

His wife, and the band’s co-founder, Stacey Lee Guse, has sung back-up for Jason McCoy and was a member of the Juno-nominated group LACE.

Steel guitarist Ed Ringwald played with Gordon Lightfoot.

Guitarist Paul Chapman has worked with Susan Aglukark, Michelle Wright and George Fox.

Bassist Matthew Lima has played with Kellylee Evans.

Fiddler and mandolinist Dan Howlett has worked with The Good Brothers and Tommy Hunter, and drummer Jim Boudreau has played with Chuck Berry, Jason McCoy and Aaron Lines.

But even if their evolution has been more subtle than their bio might suggest, 12 to 6 Central certainly finds the band in flawless form playing a grand variety of originals and covers, including the standard “Milk Cow Blues” and a version of “Full Moon Full of Love,” made famous by K.D. Lang.

The originals range from the album’s mid-tempo opener, “New Favourite Whiskey Song,” which showcases Stacey Lee’s phenomenal vocals, to the slow, sad breakup song “The Heartache, featuring Ed’s stirring steel guitar and Paul’s jazzy licks.

“The Day that You Left Me” has a bit of a cinematic country noire feel.

And the single, “Happy Chickens,” is a fun, fast-paced number about taking care of one’s home life.

There’s really not a bad song in the bunch, and the playing is first rate throughout.

What’s more, the engineering and mastering is splendid.

This is a seven-piece band, yet you can hear the space between the instruments on this lovely, clean recording. It allows the listener to appreciate each player’s contribution to the arrangements.


Veteran roots artist and producer Colin Linden truly outdid himself on the production side of things too, turning a diverse collection of songs into one heck of a cohesive package.

This is a very very strong album, coming-of-age project or not.

Let’s hope it’s a breakthrough for this rather underrated band.








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