If big, loud, electrified rock bands can be classed as stadium acts, Wartime Blues is more of a chamber ensemble. It's hard to imagine this eight-piece playing their gritty workingman's folk on an elevated stage under hot lights. Better to hear them in an intimate club, better yet a saloon. Ideally, you'd hear them around the fire in some bygone military encampment while the audience drinks moonshine out of tin cups. Whatever the setting, this is a band worth hearing, and their first full-length album is the proof.
Doves and Drums opens at walking pace and pretty much stays there, but this is no easy-listening stroll. This album is a trek. Distances will be covered. On the album-opener "Youth," Martin McCain's drums and Nate Hegyi's guitar set the marching pace at indie-anthemic, but much of the material is closer to traditional Springsteen-style Americana. The Jersey troubadour ("Saul Whitewater," "Wind Me Up") is as much an influence as Seeger Sessions Springsteen ("Robert Ford and Jesse James"), but that derivation doesn't detract from the level of talent and originality on display. If you haven't discovered Wartime Blues, discover them now while you can still see them in a small, crowded room.
Wartime Blues plays a CD release show at the Badlander Friday, Dec. 4, at 9 PM with Wolf Redboy and Lil Smokies. $5.