The Gourds have been on the scene for 17 years and I must confess I don't know their music that well and I have no idea why not. I have dipped in and out of albums and always enjoyed, but nothing would stick. Old Mad Joy has changed that lack of adhesion and though it might be more of the same it has certainly struck me this time around just how brilliantly eclectic and joyous the band is.
That eclecticism may account for not putting a finite finger on their sound over that time, but the kaleidoscope of music on this album delights throughout. In fact there is so much echoing of other performers that the rich variety would seem like thieving pastiche if it wasn't so consistently spot on.
To account for this it seems easiest to romp through the lot: opener I Want It So Bad is upbeat and funky with stabs of accordion; 2nd Drop the Charges is a garage rocker a la Frank Zappa in the chorus 'Oh Drop the Charges'; 3rd Two Sparrows is a beautifully sung folk ballad with sweet harmonies and sweeter violin strains; 4th Drop What I'm Doing is a Rolling Stones' rocker; 5th Haunted is a pedal steel driven country stomp; 6th Melchert is like a solo Keith Richards; 7th Ink and Grief is another gorgeous ballad sounding like Tom Petty and with perfect harmonies and pedal steel; 8th Peppermint City is a funky blues; 9th Marginalised is Mellencamp; 10th and 11th, respectively You Must Know and Eyes of a Child, could be performed by The Band, especially the latter, and the fact that the album was recorded at Levon Helm's Barn could go some way to explaining this.
No doubt other listeners will hear other influences/echos, but the success of the whole is in the complete freshness and craft in all the joyous performing.