This is an odd album; classic rootsy American rock played by excellent musicians that doesn’t quite add up to the sum of its parts.
The Americans are from Los Angeles and worked with Jack White and T Bone Burnett on the documentary American Epic, the soundtrack for which we reviewed. They’ve also played backing for a band made up of Lucinda Williams, Nick Cave and Courtney Love.
They’re probably a great backing band but tightness and technical proficiency aren’t enough to cut it as the headline act. Worthy, rather than exciting. They reminded us of the Steve Gibbons Band, the late 70s blues band, who were really good in places but more routine in others (their second album, Rollin’ On included their biggest hit Tulane, a Chuck Berry cover. Gibbons now tours as the Dylan Project).
The sound is often garage-y and live-sounding, a bluesy, roots Americana somewhere between Creedence/John Fogarty and Bruce Springsteen.
Opener Nevada is typical of the album: ragged blues/rock that’s well played but is never going to be an earworm. The vocals are pure Fogarty. Stowaway is better, a lively tune with clattering drums and a Pogues-do-sea-shanties feel to it.
I’ll Be Yours is a slower number with gravelly vocals. Hooky opens with gloriously distorted guitar and is swampy punk with a driving beat.
Harbor Lane is good, with more than a touch of early Black Keys.
Quality playing, it just lacks a spark; possibly more for serious students of Americana than casual listeners who want a quick fix.
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