The Dunwells and their abundance of guitars took the stage at the Mercury Lounge last night to croon their tunes to a front row consisting of some moms and dads, and me. Something about the inoffensive British bluesy-pop must intrigue them, as they nodded and jigged up a storm, with one lady bold enough to saunter up to the stage to show a magazine cover to singer David Dunwell mid-song. Oh moms. So cheeky.
This was the kick-off show to a nine-week summer tour across America, though not the band’s first American gig as the Dunwells had only just completed another American tour at the end of June. Perhaps a bit jet lagged after arriving only that day from the U.K., the Dunwells were noticeably subdued after opening with the title track from their album Blind Sighted Faith. With nothing but a “How are you doing New York?!” and call for a clap-along for audience interaction, they let their music speak for them. The five-some from Leeds are known for their group harmonies, with David, Joe Dunwell and drummer Johnny Lamb all taking lead vocals at one point or another. While all of them are wonderful vocalists, Joe is a standout from the pack; his raspy, bluesy voice and incredible range are goose-bump worthy.
The band’s latest single, “I Could Be A King,” elicited the greatest response, with the layers of guitars popping over top of an upbeat, barn-dance-esque drum line. David self-consciously clutched his banjo for this song, fearing that “more people know how to play this in America than the U.K.” I guess there isn’t much competition in the U.K. when it’s just him and that guy from Mumford And Sons. The set closed with probably the most bluesy of their songs, “Follow The Road,” allowing the guys to finally show a bit more of their personalities, filling a cappella moments with those notorious five parts and giving guitarist Dave Hanson the chance to put his chops in the forefront.
There’s nothing especially “outside of the box” about the Dunwells. Their songs, though well crafted, are safe and somewhat predictable, but that isn’t a bad thing. Like the show environment, with numerous people relaxing on the couches and shoeless bass player Rob Clayton wandering around the stage, their music is simply comfortable—and apparently mom-appropriate.