The Taproots – Tales of Wonderland | Sheer Raw Rustic Rock Fire
The Taproots consists of vocalist Nicole Cassingham and singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tom Walters. Their music is a mix of rock, folk, and jazz elements with stunning harmonic backdrops and gripping musical storytelling. Tales of Wonderland is their opus of a classic rock debut album featuring some of the best musicians from LA.
The album consists of fourteen tracks and runs at about fifty minutes in length. The record manages to keep us hooked to every song in this time span. A true treat to savour!
The album artwork is a genuine piece of mesmerizing idyllic art. A red and white caravan with kids and dogs pulled by a wagon. They are traveling against the backdrop of the countryside with a barn on the horizon. The kids and dogs overlook a small graveyard where the skeletons seem to be rather welcoming instead of scary. It reminded me of the animated series Over The Garden Wall which combined Americana folklore with black comedy. Much like the show, this is a true work of art.
We are greeted into California Life, with a solid groove with sweeping percussions and twangy guitars. The perplexing bass lines tie the swinging arrangement together. After that we get the second track which is Big Fat Love. From the country swinging mood, we are placed into a more rock direction. The drums here are loud and roaring along with the grand arrangement and vocals which go along with it. Reminds one of the days of great southern and country rock. Fresh but rooted in its sound. The rhythm guitar sound is lush while the solos have the right amount of fire and twang.
The third song is Haarlem. From the high energy of the last two songs, we get to repose into a laid back guitar accompaniment with serene vocals. This is a calm song with sweet vocal harmonies and a sense of seeing the night sky and love. Wild Like a River is the fourth song. This is a twangy rock song with some spirited vocals and a solid groove and melody. With some Fleetwood Mac feels! Compass is a calm rock ballad with great emotive vocal performances and good layering. Ontario has a steady rock beat and some gritty guitar tones. Drums that sound loud while balancing vocal interplay and rhythm parts give it a unique tonal sound. Belief has some well done acoustic guitar parts with vocal harmonies to die for. The Taproots really weave a musical tapestry here!
Better Man is more in the territory of blues rock. Blues rock licks and grooving bass lines with vocal chorus give it a smoky and blazing sound. Take note of the guitar tone here and the stunning vocal performances. Invisible Friends begins with an intriguing bass line and a well-produced and composed track. Wolf in the Woodland begins with the howl of a wolf and some impeccable rock production. The album concludes with Fate of Fire which is a perfect song encapsulating the diverse sound of The Taproots.
The pristine and virtuosic musicianship which is present in the blues, country, and folk classic rock records tends to be less spoken of. From the impeccable leads and rhythm guitars to bass lines that keep the rhythm alive every moment, the record is top notch in terms of sheer musical quality. Vocal harmonies are a treat in this record. I would learn to learn some of the vocal harmonies, they’re that good! We get a feel for some solo Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, and The Eagles and other Americana, country, folk, and southern sounds. Tales Of Wonderland has a good flow with a balanced mix of ballads and upbeat rock songs. The highlights of the record are Big Fat Love, Wolf in the Woodland, and Fate of Fire. Vocalist Nicole shines in this record through and through.