The Infidels - Under The Spotlight
First Published in Country Music International – July 1998
Drawing on diverse influences ranging from Dylan and Baez to Janis Joplin and John Hiatt, struggling British newcomers The Infidels have taken South Yorkshire by storm, and are now preparing for greater musical challenges further afield.
In an era glutted with female singer-songwriters and bandleaders, only the truly gifted will make a lasting impact. Foremost in that category is Leeds-based newcomer Anna Mosley, whose ample singing, writing and instrumental skills make The Infidels one of the most compelling new bands on the British alternative country-rock scene.
The band’s most critically acclaimed, self-produced and self-financed FAITHLESS AND BLUE album was released earlier this year following a series of local gigs around South Yorkshire that gained the band a substantial fan base. Lyrically and musically, The Infidels are head-and-shoulders above the competition, and FAITHLESS AND BLUE doesn’t just rock British country music’s safe and tranquil waters, it creates a storm that could reverberate around the world.
“We are an odd combination, but it works,” explains Anna, the 21-year-old hyper-emotive, raspy-voiced songstress whose band also comprises multi-instrumentalist Ian Keilty (lead, slide guitar, mandolin, backing vocals), and veteran musos Rob Lee (drums and backing vocals) and Mike Brown (bass and backing vocals).
“I don’t feel that I lead,” she continues. “I respect their experience and listen to what they have to say. It's taken me three years to get a settled line-up that I’m really happy with. It's only in the last nine months that we’ve actually had this line-up, gone in the studio and produced the album. It's all happened so fast.”
One of the most excellent yet overlooked country-rock combos on the road today, the band evolved in Anna’s mind at the same time that her musical tastes evolved. Yet initially Anna had little inclination for a singing career. “To be honest, I was more into drama and wanted to be an actress,” she says. “I didn’t get a part in a play when I was ten because I couldn’t sing, and I cried for days. I decided then that I was never going to sing.”
But later she did take to music, and at 13 was a guitarist in Jesus Sandals, an all-girl folk-rock band influenced by The Pogues and Janis Joplin. By the time she was in sixth form she had moved on to Freek, a two-girl, two-boy rock band in the style of Soul Asylum. “When we first started, we played a couple of my songs, but it was basically covers,” she recalls. “It was at that point that I worked with the lead guitarist on some of my material. That was when I first started to sing. We didn’t have a singer and I was nominated. It wasn’t a conscious decision—I just found myself singing one day and it went from there.”
The driving force behind the band, Anna worked tirelessly to promote Freek who were eventually offered a record contract. But it all came too late. “We found that musically we were beginning to draw apart. The two lads were getting heavier, and it wasn’t quite what I had envisaged. That’s when we finally broke up.”
It was at that time that Anna became drawn to country music and started taking her songwriting seriously. She wanted to form a country band with real attitude but couldn’t find like-minded musicians. To keep her hand in she went along to folk clubs, and three years ago she moved from her home in Barnsley to attend Leeds University, where she started putting together the nucleus of The Infidels.
The first couple of years were frustrating, as she tried to balance studies with music, but most of the musicians she worked with either didn’t share her enthusiasm and commitment or were musically inept. It was Ian Keilty, originally from the North-east, who was the musical catalyst that Anna had been seeking. He was the perfect foil for her punchy, lyrically invigorating songs, and in a short time the pair attracted drummer Rob Lee, who had spent years playing everything from punk through to reggae, and country bass player Mike Brown. With Anna out front on vocals and guitar, (she’s also a talented mandolin and keyboards player), The Infidels were finally ready to take on the world.
In the past Anna Mosely was very much a one-girl band, doing all the writing, playing a multitude of instruments, and even taking a hand in the production and arranging of her material. Now she had the kind of musicians who could take some weight off her shoulders, and this brought out fresh inspiration that spawned the strong material that is FAITHLESS AND BLUE.
The Infidels serve up a head-pounding, open-throttle, guitar-driven assault on the senses, music that combines the intensity of a beating with the sweetness of an embrace, coupled with lyrics that are actually worth listening to. Indeed, the band thrives on its inspired frenzy, following in the tradition of The Blasters and Gram Parsons to bring rock and country together in a head-on collision.
“Basically, I go for things that are quite rocky,” explains Anna. “Therefore, we are not classified completely as country or country & western or things that are folk-country. Combining the two, country and rock, that’s really where we’re at.”
With a cheeky and infectious stage persona, Anna displays a fully developed vocal range with a powerful and emotional voice that moves easily from a soft whisper to a dramatic upper register, and a cute, swaggering confidence. Her belief in what she is doing, blended with her unerring song sense, makes The Infidels one of the most exciting country-rock bands to have emerged on the British scene in years, and the most likely to succeed.