Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Music Review: “Long Drive” Reluctant Saints


“Writing a song to remember, is the hardest thing to do – Reluctant Saints Long Drive

Reluctant Saints1But apparently not for Atlanta’s own Reluctant Saints. It’s been a very long time since I opened the mail to a new CD, dropped that sucker in the player and was instantly blown the hell away. These five guys have it all. Musically, style, song writing talent four distinctive, yet cohesive lead vocalists that would stand out amongst the best in the business.

If you’re a musician and you hear a new band the first thing you do is listen with a critical ear; “the drummers got a fast foot, the lead guitar needs to pay attention to the band, the keyboard player acts like he wishes his instrument wasn’t in front of him, etc…” you can’t help it, you’re a musician, you want to hold the music at arms link and examine it. From the opening track, Blue Ridge Baby, by the second bar, I grabbed my bass and tried to join in. I wanted to play these tunes, I wanted to be part of this band. It was that good and these guys felt that together.

That first tune is a mid tempo ballad with a country feel underneath some nice guitar work. It has an Allman Brothers feel to it and a nice keyboard run in the bridge. Shine On Me shows off the groups vocal harmony’s, on another stand out lyric – this band really has four lead vocalists so this comes as no surprise. More nice guitar work.

Next up is the title track, Long Drive, just one of the standout tracks on the album. It has a more mainstream, modern rock feel to it and features a duet with Shana Alverson who headlines her own folk/country band out of Decatur, GA.. It’s a “comin’ home off the long road to an old love song.” Down In Nowhere immediately reminded me of Dan Folgelberg, both lyrically and in Mark Wilson’s vocal delivery. The piano work is real sweet here. There is something infectious about this tune and I keep finding myself looping it. There’s also a nice guitar fill in the bridge that serves to remind you that this ain’t no MOR tune.

Song To Remember Show cases Nathan Morgan kick ass vocals and guitar work. You listen to Nathan on guitar for just a few moments and you understand how he recently found himself playing Buddy Guy’s Buddy’s Chicago Club. He has got the licks, the feel, and despite his young age, can play the blues without trying to be a shredder. This may just be my favorite tune on the album. This reminded me of Lynard Skynyrd. check it out, see if you don’t agree.

Song To Remember–Reluctant Saints

Up next is I’ll Miss You When I’m Broke featuring the vocals of Jon Cole, who also does a great job on piano. There’s some sweet Hammond B-3 organ on this track added by Earth, Wind and Fire’s Oliver Wells. Descending has Brian Cameron back on lead vocals and the great Ike Stubblefield (Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raits) on the organ, and Tomas Ramirez doing some fine sax work. Check out Tomas' own album, The Lonely Vato he is a certified jazz, funk and blues legend from Austin, Texas and really brings that feel to this great tune.The vocal harmony’s really stand out on this tune.

Right Behind You is another personal favorite that made me think of The Bare Naked Ladies. it’s playful musically and vocally. Real fun rocker. Free is another great harmony guitar tune evoking the Allman brothers influence with Ike Stubblefield on the organ and even more great vocal harmonies. May There Be A Road is another great ballad featuring Jon’s tender vocals and sweet piano.

The album closes out with Black Texas Highway just to remind you these guys are a southern band and got country in their soul. that’s splashed liberally with some southern blues. the guitar run is memorable.

This CD doesn’t feature just another collection of “pretty decent musicians”. There is not a weak musician in the bunch. Every one of them are stand out instrumentalists and each could lead his own band on vocals. Additionally, there are some master song writers here.  Brian Cameron is actually Brian Cameron Wilson (who drops his last name on stage for obvious reasons), has a great feel for his guitar and has a marvelous expressive voice, as does Mark Wilson (his brother) on the bass. Being a bass player myself, Mark really impressed me. Nathan Morgan on guitar, lead and harmony vocals is the perfect compliment and completes that dual guitar role that helps these guys fulfill that classic southern rock sound. Jon Cole’s piano work runs the gambit from honky-tonk to jazz and his lead vocals are sweet as sun tea on a hot Georgia day. Gary Chumney makes the band complete on the drums and other percussion instruments.

Individually, it’s easy to appreciate these guys as fine musicians and it becomes obvious why they have had success in other bands, Steel Horses who had some regional success and opened for national acts Confederate Railroad and Jupiter Coyote, as well as winning American Idol song writing contests and have been featured on Ike Stubblefield’s albums. Individually they have also opened for Dave Matthew’s, Days Of The New, Buddy Guy, sang the National Anthem to open Major League ball games. But it collectively that the magic happens. They somehow become a sum greater than the individual parts. If these guys aren’t filling stadiums soon and ruling the iTunes hit lists there just isn’t any justice in the music world.

The album was produced by Paul Kelly, Reluctant Saints and Jonathan Beckner and recorded at Real 2 Reel Studios in Jonesboro, GA

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Review CD Provided by Mark Pucci Media and INIO Music.

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