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Rival Sons – Feral Roots Review

Released by: Low Country Sound/Elektra

Release Date: Out now!

Genre: Blues Rock, Hard Rock

Links: www.rivalsons.com

Album Line-up:
Jay Buchanan – Vocals
Scott Holiday – Guitars
Michael Miley – Drums
Dave Beste – Bass

Tracklist:

1.Do Your Worst
2. Sugar On The Bone
3. Back In The Woods
4. Look Away
5. Feral Roots
6. Too Bad
7. Stood By Me
8. Imperial Joy
9. All Directions
10. The End Of Forever
11. Shooting Stars

The Californian blues-rock quartet return with their sixth studio album, overseen by long-time producer of the band, Dave Cobb and recorded at Nashville’s infamous RCA Studio A, as well as the equally esteemed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama. The influences of some the big names who have previously graced the latter (Rod Stewart and The Rolling Stones to name just two) certainly echo through the core of this album, yet they manage to maintain a unique, fresh vibe to their music. Now well established in their tenth year, Rival Sons have settled comfortably into their distinct sound, with Jay Buchanan’s vocals resembling the smooth poetic tongue of Jim Morrison spliced with the range and power of a young Robert Plant.

Eschewing the somewhat haphazard content of previous albums, Feral Roots could be viewed as a fitting sequel to their more grounded and organic 2016 offering, Hollow Bones. There is also an obvious recurring theme with the sleeve art, both of which feature the stunning work of Martin Wittfooth who is renowned for his beautifully detailed gothic animal portraits focusing on the darker side of nature. “Wildmother” as it’s aptly titled, depicts a collared dog sprawled out lactating onto the forest floor, surrounded by exquisite flora and exotic wild birds. Fitting to the intrinsic theme, this wildness can be heard both starkly and subtly throughout the album.

Grinding guitars and thumping drums kick off the opening track “Do Your Worst” with its catchy sing-along chorus, “Sugar On The Bone” dissolves effortlessly into “Back In The Woods” with some serious shredding from Scott Holiday. You might be fooled into thinking “Look Away” is some sort of pagan ballad as it begins with folk-tinged guitar and tribal drumming but the heavy melodic riff soon spikes, shapeshifting into one of the stand out tracks of the album. The nature theme then peaks with the stunning title track, a nostalgic tale of mysticism and wilderness.

A darker sentimentality is then taken on for “Too Bad” with its doom-laden opening riff and barbed lyrics of a lost love. The mood is lifted only slightly with a tail-between-legs apologetic soliloquy embedded in “Stood By Me”, followed by the gently elating and sublime “Imperial Joy”. Goosebumps ensue for the simple yet punchy closing track, “Shooting Stars”, accompanied by the Nashville Urban Choir and featuring the delightful nursery rhyme quality lyrics “my love is stronger than your hate will ever be” – a heart-warming finale solidifying the notion that good deeds and positivity will conquer all.

For anyone just discovering this band, I think this album is a great place to start and work backwards through their catalogue, in order to really ‘get’ where they are right now and understand how they’ve successfully evolved and flourished over the last decade. A beautifully put together collection of melodic, powerful modern rock songs with meaning.

Ratings: 9/10

Written by: Caroline Blood

My Global Mind – Contributor

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