49 Winchester Stick to Their Own Brand of Outlaw Country on ‘Fortune Favors The Bold’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Photo credit: Joshua Black Wilkins

Since their formation and the self-release of their first EP nearly a decade ago, the Virginia-based 49 Winchester has put plenty of miles on the van, playing hundreds of shows, sticking with their own brand of outlaw country that would make Willie, Waylon and the boys beam with pride.

Three self-released albums later the band is finally (hopefully) about to get the wider recognition they deserve with the release of Fortune Favors The Bold – their first effort for New West Records – a stellar record of authentic, pretention-free country music oblivious to the current musical trends. The album starts off with a few seconds of glorious, Beach Boys worthy harmonies on “Annabel,” a song with surprising earnestness about trying not to miss out on love. And just one song later, the band shows off their lyrical wit talking about the battle between Jesus and Jim Beam on “Man’s Best Friend.” Two songs in, the appeal of 49 Winchester is obvious with their deft ability to be serious and vulnerable one minute and whip-smart clever the next.

Frontman Isaac Gibson spoke recently about their deliberate DIY strategy as a band – self releasing their first several records. “We didn’t start out as a bunch of hot shot pickers out of Nashville. We started out on the ground floor — very basic songwriting and instrumentation. But we kept working at it, always progressing in what we wanted to do and how we wanted to sound — each song better than the previous one, the show this evening better than last night.” 

Fortune Favors The Bold is clearly the result of this deliberate, build it from the ground up strategy. And if the record is any indication – 10 tracks that cover the spectrum from genuine love songs to raucous barroom singalongs – 49 Winchester is certainly ready for a much bigger audience. “We ain’t got no hits, but we sell a few tickets/And it seems like a lot to a guy like me,” Gibson humbly sings on “All I Need.” That line may need to be updated after this record gets out.  

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