Welcome to the Current Thinking on the Western blog.  The blog is an Internet resource for scholars and enthusiasts of the Western worldwide that is edited by Lee Broughton. The blog is also home to the International Scholars of the Western Network. You can discover more about the blog here and learn more about the network here. Thanks for stopping by.


Killing Fever by Sarah Vista


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Sara Vista: Killing Fever (Gallow Romantic Records SV004) reviewed by Lee Broughton

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Sarah Vista has a great country music voice and her band whips up a fairly unique country and western sound: Tom Meadows’ spare chugging drum rhythms evoke those of early rock ‘n’ roll and many a Johnny Cash song while Emma Goss’ double bass rumbles and Jeff Meads’ guitar twangs alongside Vista’s own guitar work amidst interjections by emotive trumpets and choral backing vocals that draw inspiration from Ennio Morricone’s soundtracks for Sergio Leone’s Dollars films. Hence there’s a lot to like about Vista’s debut album, Killing Fever (2018). In fact, there’s not a duff track to be had here really. Vista and the band stay true to the basic sounds of country and western music but they bring a good deal of variety to their original tunes in terms of attitude, tempo, song arrangements and additional instrumentation. Tales of revenge and female empowerment inform many of the songs’ lyrics. For the purpose of this short review I’ll pick out a few highlights in order to give a broader idea of the band’s sound.

The album’s moody title track, ‘Killing Fever’, features hints of musical pocket watch chimes as well as effective harmonica playing and some well-placed whammy bar work. This track would work perfectly on the soundtrack of a weird David Lynch road movie. Perhaps not surprisingly, the sombre-sounding ‘Get Three Coffins Ready’ features nods towards Ennio Morricone’s work with its Spaghetti Western-esque trumpet and backing vocals. A number of other tracks, including the dramatic and epic-sounding ‘Hell at High Noon’, the driving and up-tempo ‘I Wish

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You Hell’ and the haunting ‘Fortune Teller’ (whose lyrics appear to reference the plot of Clint Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter [1973]) all incorporate the Morricone influence to great effect. The feminist sentiments of ‘A Day Late a Dollar Short’ are set to a riotous backing track that almost brings to mind the Pogues at their most manic. The melancholy sounding ‘Shoot, Luke or Give Up the Gun’ is enhanced by what sounds like some lowly-mixed organ work and some atmospheric lead guitar licks. All told, this is a great debut album that will appeal to Spaghetti Western fans as much as country and western aficionados.

Read more about Sarah Vista and Killing Fever here.

Lee Broughton is the author of The Euro-Western: Reframing Gender, Race and the ‘Other’ in Film (2016) and the editor of Critical Perspectives on the Western: From A Fistful of Dollars to Django Unchained (2016).

© Copyright 2019 Lee Broughton.