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Single Review: The Waydown Wailers “Firefall”

I haven’t heard anything quite like The Waydown Wailers’ “Firefall” this year. The Central Upstate New York rockers’ new single “Firefall” from their fourth studio album Miles of Roads has a texture and direction none of their contemporaries practice or can claim. Christian and Dave Parker, B-Bender and regular six-string guitarist/vocalist respectively, anchor the lineup. Bass player Connor Pelkey, drummer Michael Scriminger, and keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Joe Thomas join them. The five-piece has set themselves apart from the pack for several years and I’m only hearing about them for the first time with this single. I’ll have to fix that oversight, post haste. 

I’ve seen them labeled country rock. “Firefall” is nothing of the sort. It’s driven by the Parkers’ guitar playing, Christian on B-Bender guitar while Dave plays a traditional axe, but Scriminger and Pelkey’s rhythm section contribution is essential. The song varies from a slow near-staccato crawl into mid-tempo flourishes between the verses. It’s an unusual approach and not everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for me. They gear the guitar playing towards hard rock but without any of the genre’s customary bluster.

The lyrics are a cautionary tale about what happens to those who dare New York’s Firefall State Park. It’s a land renowned in local lore as a site where mysteries abound and it’s obviously piqued songwriter Joe Thomas’ imagination. The conversational lyrics are laden with generalities and specific details in equal measure and do an excellent job evoking the park’s rich history without ever dwelling on minutia. Dave Parker’s lead vocal has a declamatory tone but blends well with the music.

Thomas’ B3 Hammond organ is an important part of the song. It may seem a little redundant in a two-guitar band, but it further beefs up the band’s sound. They generate impressive power throughout “Firefall” without ever sounding heavy-handed. The band foregoes any sort of solo spot for the instruments, and you won’t miss it. They bring plenty of rock and roll firepower to the table to more than compensate for the lack.

I’m a great fan of the video for the song. It shows off the band’s sense of humor without ever seeming silly. The clip definitely looks good. Waydown Wailers put a great deal of effort into crafting a stylish and visually appealing clip that compliments the music and its storytelling strength gives the song added appeal. “Firefall” more than stands up on its own, of course, but the video makes for an excellent companion piece.

It’s poised to be one of Miles of Roads’ finest moments. The band’s longtime fans will likely embrace the song and its video without reservation while novices to the band such as myself will be instant converts to their cause. Their unique creativity shines through at every point of the song and the video is enjoyable. Rock fans will find every box checked off with this song and come away thoroughly satisfied by the listening and visual experience. It’s one hell of a way to usher in their latest release coming out later this month. 


David Lee Marshall

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