Black Country, New Road remain friends forever

The post-rock band discovers new territory with latest release


Courtesy of Album of the Year

“Live at Bush Hall” occupies a unique, hard-to-pin-down space in the lexicon of artistic pursuits, writes Adam Coil.

Adam Coil, Life Editor

When the news broke in February 2022 that Black Country, New Road’s frontman Isaac Wood would be stepping away from the band indefinitely, an entire community — ranging from casual fans to heart-broken aficionados — felt something like a shockwave.

Black Country, New Road had just released what I confidently claim to be the best album of the year, but the only thing that could be palpably and immediately felt was the immense loss of musical ingenuity and personality that Wood brought to the band. It was a disheartening time and all the more tumultuous for the remaining members of the group, given that they had an entire summer of tour dates waiting around the corner.

Instead of attempting to revive something which was now irrefutably of the past, Black Country, New Road forged ahead and scraped together an entirely new set of songs, which is how we arrived at “Live at Bush Hall.”

Released on Feb. 20, “Live at Bush Hall” occupies a unique, hard-to-pin-down space in the lexicon of artistic pursuits. Is it a musical or a film? Could it be a legitimate studio album or only a compilation of unreleased tracks? All of the above, yet so much more?

For the sake of convenience, I’ll just call it an album.

More than that, “Live From Bush Hall” is a pinnacle achievement, taking the idea of a concept album and absolutely running with it. 

“Live From Bush Hall” is an album about Black Country, New Road itself. It is about how different members of the band are processing Wood’s absence and how the band plans to move forward, both as a collection of people and a collection of artists.

With “Live From Bush Hall,” we get a taste of what we might have been hitherto missing. Tyler Hyde — who plays bass but also began singing after Wood’s departure — said, in reference to the band, “Right now, we’re the most liberated we’ve ever been.” Indeed, as a fan, I have been able to witness some glimmering moments of brilliance that would likely have gone unrealized if Wood was still around. 

I am thinking particularly about Lewis Evans’ emphatic vocals on “Across The Pond Friend” — a song that is practically begging to accompany the best “Frog and Toad” edit that you have ever seen. Or May Kershaw’s stunning performances on “Turbines” and “The Boy” — two songs that make me excited about what we’re going to see in the future from the band. In these three songs, we get to witness the group’s same preternatural genius for building and releasing tension to create a feeling of catharsis. However, we also get to see the group experiment with fun ideas that didn’t seem to make it into their previous work.

While Black Country, New Road was clearly a collective effort from the jump, it can only mean good things to see that other members of the band are now contributing lyrically and vocally to each song. One of the most endearing aspects of “Live From Bush Hall” is that each song is performed by the member who wrote it, and you can really feel that dynamic with each performance. 

By any measure, it is a rewarding time to be a fan of Black Country, New Road and progressive music in general. The amount of time, dedication and emotional vulnerability that were infused into this project make me optimistic in the extreme, given that “Live From Bush Hall” isn’t even technically considered an album. Tyler Hyde, Lewis Evans, May Kershaw, Charlie Wayne, Georgia Ellery and Luke Mark are only getting started. Who knows what they will be able to create at the height of their powers?