Already home to the likes of Frank Turner, Ben Marwood, and Canadian troubadour Northcote, it’s not a stretch to say Xtra Mile know a little something about singer-songwriters. It’s therefore no surprise to see Billy the Kid (AKA Billy Pettinger) on their roster – especially considering her latest offering, ‘Horseshoes & Hand Grenades’, is something a little bit special.
Naturally, being a singer-songwriter, the focus is very much on the guitar and vocals arrangements. Billy’s blessed with a wonderful, earthy and soulful voice, with just enough of a punk edge and rasp to keep things interesting. She can also pen a tune or two, and while ‘Horseshoes & Hand Grenades’ veers from straight up indie-rock to alt-country and gentle ballads, she proves she’s adept at any style she turns her hand to.
That said, the up tempo punk’n’roll blasts of ‘Back to You’ and ‘Lord Let Me’ are the undoubted highlights. Played with passion and drive, as well as mixing storytelling and hyper-personal lyrics, they ensure ‘Horseshoes & Hand Grenades’ is as memorable as it is instant.
Elsewhere, the lovely ‘Thoroughfare’ is a really stripped back, gentle, affair, while the meandering ‘Virginia’ and ‘Chelsea Rose’ showcase her talents away from the three minute pop songs. Also, it’s a blessed relief that her duet with Frank Turner, ( ‘This Sure As Hell Ain’t My Life’), while not the strongest song on the album, doesn’t sound like a cheap cash in.
In terms of style and delivery, an easy comparison could be made with Allison Weiss, and if you’re a fan of the New York based singer, you’ll almost certainly fall in love with this. Equally, there’s more than enough depth, quality and variety to ‘Horseshoes & Hand’ Grenades’ to ensure this Kid can stand on her own two feet.
‘Horseshoes & Hand Grenades’ by Billy the Kid is out now on Xtra Mile Records.
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Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)