The Fargo Railroad Co. – Time And Grace  – Metal Planet Music

Reviewed by Taf Rock for MPM

Hop on board, take a seat and enjoy the ride across a landscape of Southern influenced rock tinged with country. Our transport today is provided by a band of four calling themselves The Fargo Railroad Co.

A quartet established as a working unit in Sheffield over a decade ago in 2013, this particular company not concerning themselves with ferrying freight and people around the United States via means of the railway network but purveyors of mighty fine tunes providing a soundtrack consisting of an amalgamation of Southern Rock/Country to accompany us on our journey. Time and Grace is the band’s third studio album following on from 2019’s Under These Lights. The quartet features Jody Davies (vocals/acoustic guitar), Steven ‘Smack’ McMurray (drums), Andy P Davison (electric guitar/harmonica) and Andy ‘Kboo’ Dye (bass/electric/acoustic guitar).

The album commences with live favourite Jackie Come On. A great sing-a-long tune which rapidly becomes an ear worm that will be by your side for the rest of the night. More country then southern rock (largely down to the addition of Melvyn Duffy’s pedal steel) we hear the story of a foiled plot to rob ‘the foreman’s office… take the money out to the tracks … and buy a new Cadillac’. However things don’t quite go to plan as Jody tells us in his rich southern tones, more in line with someone not from Doncaster, South Yorkshire but from Jacksonville or Georgia in the USA. The guitar enhancing the southern feel of our lively opener. As ‘the sirens howl’ in pursuit of the foiled gang the crowd sing along and urge our heroes to ‘get your pistol ready’ and put up a fight. 

Jody Davies was an apprentice welder in his younger days so knows all about Hard Work and ‘sweating for a paycheck’.Setting off at a fast pace thanks to the rocked up rhythm section of Smack McMurray and Andy Dye we follow the trials and tribulations of the life of a family man intent on providing for his family.  Mark Edwards provides scorching Hammond organ as he ‘let’s it go’ at Jody’s request providing another dimension to the band’s varied sound. A rock ‘n’ roll riff fuelled journey through the life of a typical working man complete with ‘busted knuckles, blisters and hurt.’

When you work hard for a living you need downtime. It’s perfectly acceptable to sometimes thoroughly enjoy yourself doing nothing. A chilled out refrain sets the scene as we take it easy and go for a late night drive Going Nowhere in particular. Melvyn Duffy and Mark Edwards hitch a lift once again, playing a large part as the song builds through atmospheric layers of keyboards, pedal steel and acoustic guitar before a beat of Smack’s drums heralds the arrival of the band en masse on a mission to ‘keep this ride rolling until daylight’. Another superb vocal performance throughout this one by Jody – full of emotion and intent – briefly interrupted by the band in full on orchestra mode.

Wherever you live your nearest town is sure to have a busy street laden with drinking and eating establishments. A street such as Sheffield’s London Road. A quite dark tale as ‘lovers part’ whilst at the same time recalling nights and enjoyable times spent on this particular road. Melvyn’s pedal steel providing a distinct country edge once again enhanced by a brief burst of Andy Davison gob iron.

Crowd favourite One Mile is long overdue a slot on a Fargo studio album. A feature of gigs for several years now it appeared on both 2015’s Sharing The Load live album and 2016’s Live at the Greystones set which celebrated the release of The Railroad Co’s debut studio album This One’s For You. A song about being given a ‘second chance’ in life. Another opportunity to right the wrongs and prove your worth. This version certainly gives the crowd favourite all those chances and more to display its worth. Opening with acoustic strumming as Jody pleads to be given another chance to ‘show you that I love you’. The sole voice of Jody in stark contrast to the live sets where he is always joined by the choir of an exuberant crowd who know each and every word. Davison harmonica signals the arrival of the band once again enhanced by sensational keyboards from Mark Edwards. Despite the sorry message behind the song there’s almost a celebratory good time nature exhibited here as the band revel and Indulge in a reworking of this well versed tune which is sure to delight the avid Rail Co. fan as it concludes with a harmonica fuelled gang chorus from the band echoing those live performances.

Andy Dye’s bass to the fore throughout as the rhythm section is accompanied once again by harmonica. Sorrow is in the air, ‘She’s found a new man it’s official she’s Moving On’. The new guy may well ‘know all the right clothes to wear… got big money in the bank.’. Unlike Jody though ‘I bet he don’t sing in a band’. A not so subtle dig at the new guy lifts the spirits a little whilst questioning the ex partner’s decision to leave. Davison’s electric guitar lamenting the sorrowful situation.

Tongue in cheek humour lifts our spirits during the country sounds of Slipped & Fell. ‘Too many vodkas’ have been consumed as an inebriated lady suffers the consequences bringing a touch of hilarity to the concerns of those witnessing the incident. Pedal steel again accompanies the acoustic guitars. Lyrics such as ‘it’s a long way to walk when you just want to crawl’ bring light hearted relief to the more serious and deeper meanings contained within this song as it reflects on misplaced emotions ‘sometimes love will break you… you got to choose to stay broken’, ‘I could live 100 years and still be hung up on you’. 

We have been through some tough times recently. Waste of Grace gives a message of hope as we look for the light at the end of our tunnel. Acoustic and electric guitar blends with keys, constructed with many layers just like our hopes the song builds and builds. ‘Lest we be left bereft and just take’. Don’t take anything for granted, cherish the kindness love and faith someone may entrust in you. Don’t risk ‘losing your mind … Just like I lost you’. A beautiful song with a real meaning behind it.

Country blues Drinking Alone sends a more light hearted tongue-in-cheek message. If you consume your beverages behind closed doors ‘on your tod’ then you will be guilty of ‘less dumb shit and less people think you’re an asshole’. You won’t wake to ‘angry messages on your phone’. A song designed to get the live audience calling out to the band whilst bringing a smile to everyone’s faces. The subject of this song deserves to be kept anonymous – after all he’s been through a lot ‘seen big scary men get pretty irate’. Drink with this person you’ll soon find out why they are drinking alone. ‘If there’s no one there to judge I ain’t got a drinking problem’ Jody sings. The piano breaks into a bar room boogie. Enough has been said!

A rocking end to our ride alongside The Fargo Railroad Co terminates in Vegas. With a great deal of humour we go out drinking and end up eloping not to Gretna Green but Vegas!!! A gamble worthy of a casino in Vegas indeed. For one last time savour those glorious Edwards keys intertwining with the electric and acoustic guitars. The rocking guitar sets the scene as ‘we get married in a white church … In front of God and Elvis’. 

This band sure knows how to make their audiences smile. Just don’t go out drinking with them – Lord knows where you will end up or what you will end up doing. One things for sure though – it will be a whole lotta fun.

Time And Grace is available now and can be purchased via the band’s Bandcamp site here

Physical formats can be purchased direct from the band’s website

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