Once upon a time, history wasn't on text books but on the mouths and music of many a street musician. From the bards of yore to the Delta Blues musicians, oral history was the only way to teach the people about those who went before us.

In this sort of way, The Payroll Union plays Americana music with a lyrical content heavily based on the history of the United States. Previously known as Pete David and the Payroll Union, the band offers their second EP, Your obedient servant, another collection of 6 songs that wouldn't be out of place in a Sergio Leone film or one of those Weird Westerns the 70s were happy to churn out (see John Carpenter doing a Western under several guises).

The EP takes the name from one of General Ulysses S. Grant's letters during the American Civil War. That's the first sign that there's some heavy reliance in history. The Payroll Union takes on a much grittier tour of Americana, with songs about death, war and tragedy. The deep lyrics and excellent instrumentation are the bread and butter of this grim (but enjoyable) release.

Split between three brisk, rockier tunes and three that take a more relaxed pace, the lush audio mix shows the few extra bits thrown in by the band to create a bigger atmosphere. It's these little details that push the songs forward (like the cracked wood at the end of '1826').

The song 'Jake the pistol' opens the album, a sort of ballad based on the exploits of a certain John Wilkes Booth. Yes, if that isn't a warning post to what will follow, I certainly don't know what else to say. There are very dark moments in this album, with the two bleakest ones being the moments before an attack by soldiers in 'General James Wolfe' (“Hide the silverware / hide the children”) and the entire ode to grievance that is 'Julia died of cholera', easily the stand out track of the EP.

Not all is gloom and doom. 'Emily' is a very catchy tune (just don't go too deep into the lyrics), a reminder that the band knows how to do a memorable ditty to show a brighter shade on their musical spectrum and why their live shows find people dancing.

As a mix of Oral History and Americana, Your obedient servant offers an excellent choice of an EP, never slowing down to a grind, always keeping an upbeat pace juxtaposed with a dark lyrical content that will take a few listens (and possibly a few visits to your fave search engine) to get all references.