London folk-rock duo the Rails follow up their critically acclaimed debut with Other People, a streamlined, all-original set that benefits from strong performances and some added production heft. When the Rails arrived in 2014, their combined pedigree alone guaranteed they'd garner attention. Comprised of husband-and-wife team James Walbourne (Pretenders, the Pogues, Ray Davies) and Kami Thompson (daughter of Richard and Linda Thompson), the duo set about honoring their U.K. folk heritage while planting their own distinctive flag in its soil. Recorded in Nashville with producer Ray Kennedy, 2017's Other People represents a more solidified approach, capturing the energy of a rock band while also sharpening up the duo's efforts as songsmiths. Joining them in the studio are a trio of top-notch American session players in bassist Jim Boquist (Son Volt), drummer Cody Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), and pedal steel man Eric Heywood (Ray LaMontagne) who, combined with Walbourne's significant guitar (and keyboard) chops, make for an inspired instrumental combo. Lean, tight, and boasting a pleasantly grainy retro patina, Other People is rife with tales of hard times, down-and-outs, and lovelorn characters framed in the hearty architectures of classic British folk, country, rock, psych, and blue-eyed soul. Throughout the ten tracks, Thompson's winsome voice provides a tender foil to Walbourne's weary grit and, when combined in harmony, they become a third instrument altogether, belting out powerful choruses on songs like "Dark Times" and "Late Surrender" or weaving delicately on Celtic-tinged folk ballads like "The Cally" and "Leaving This Land." It's an impressive sophomore release with a timeless feel and no shortage of highlights. ~ Timothy Monger
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