The SideMen featuring Nick Justice & Feter Martin Homer
It appears this duo is from the backwoods & sings with straw in their mouth with a jug at their feet. But from the opening of “Come Dance With Me,” & the tone of the Long Island/Bronx native Nick Justice’s voice this is a highly polished duo. Roots are planted deep in the soil of traditional music. Its rural, dusty, delicious expanse comes not from an archive but from its original songs.
Some tunes lead with fiddle or banjo but the tales that emanate from these whisky-soaked vocals are like they stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
The Turkish Feter Martin Homer (great mountain name isn’t it?) vocalizes dusky & authentic on “This Storm Shall Pass Away.” Even in its primitive modern mythos with an old English folk song tint that seeps through into an Americanized song – it’s bright & beautiful. The final vocal note is about as deep as the Crashtest Dummies’ Brad Roberts.
The deep vocal is refreshing in an era of dour-angst-ridden pitched whiney rock vocals. “Meet the Train,” sung by Nick is worthy of the brilliance exhibited by the Grateful Dead, Seatrain, Goose Creek Symphony, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band & the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. Oh yeah.
This self-titled 10-song debut by The SideMen (Drops July 20– Independent) has many traditionally-rooted melodies but they’re all miraculously well-written originals. “Lady of the Roses,” is even mindful of the UK’s folk master Dave Cousins’ & Strawbs’ early epic work – “Vision of the Lady in the Lake.”
Both Nick & Feter take a page from the late folk musician Erik Darling (banjo/guitars) who also wore similar hats, vests & shirts. There can also be comparisons to duos such as Lowen & Navarro, but The SideMen tend to play more traditionally.
“Let’s Get Out of Here,” has a melody line almost similar to Warren Zevon’s “Mutineer,” but works quite well as the duo’s most mainstream tune. Whether singing solo or together they always sound good. There’s little here that can be considered commercial & therein lies its quality. The songs are more concerned with sincerity, to be engaging & memorable to the heart & mind as well as the feet. Their music tells the story of the forgotten, those with broken dreams & lost souls who look for redemption.
Produced by the former lead guitarist of Jules & the Polar Bears — Richard Bredice (organ on “Arise”) & The SideMen. It features Nick (lead/guitars/mandolin/harmonica/background vocals/percussion), Feter (lead & background vocals/lead guitars/banjo), Grammy Award-winner Gabe Witcher (fiddle) & Alan Deremo (upright bass – former John Denver’s touring/recording band).
CD cover image by Nate Stephens. The 34-minute CD available @ https://thesidemen.net/