Sound — 9
Singer Skills: The vocal talent in this group is amazing. They have three guitar players and a bassist who sing. They were each former lead singers of different solo bands in the past. Vocally, I would say they compare to the format of a band like the Eagles; lots of harmonies and vocal ranges with acoustic songs and electric classic rock-vibe songs.
Instruments: Taylor Burns plays a vintage '65 Epiphone Riviera 12 string, Gibson ES-335, or Gibson Hummingbird with a vintage '60s Princeton Reverb amp. The lead guitarist, Preston Wimberly plays through a Fender Vibrolux Reverb with a Gibson SG, Les Paul and at times a Fender pedal steel guitar. I've also seen him play a Telecaster. Ricky Young plays a Gibson j-200 and a Gibson southern jumbo. Joel King plays a harmony bass and occasionally a Gibson acoustic. Not sure about Ben Jarvis' drums.
Overall impression of the sound and music. Quality of sound: They were produced by Jay Joyce so the sound quality is there. Live, these guys are loud and tight! This was my favorite CD of 2013 and is still my favorite CD of 2014. They have a sound that is reminiscent, to me, of bands like the Eagles, Tom Petty, Neil Young, The Beatles, and The Band. Their bio says, "they're like if Led Zeppelin and The Band had a baby in Joshua Tree that grew up listening to Ryan Adams covering the Stones '70s country influenced songs." They smoothly mix elements of country, rock, folk, pop, and blues to form a modern-"classic" rock sound. In interviews they stay away from genres and consider their music "American rock 'n' roll" which I agree with.
Lyrics — 8
Impression of lyrics: Taylor, Rickey, and Joel co-write the songs on this album. They each add a unique quality to the songs, making them very powerful. The lyrics come across as genuine. They can be country without singing about beer and trucks; or rock without singing about drugs or sex. They appear to be real songwriters and don't rely on lyrical clichés. They pair great hooks with great harmonies.
Compliance of lyrics with music: There's a great alignment with lyrics and music. They do a great job of mixing in Major chord arrangements for more upbeat lyrics and Minor chord progressions for deeper more bluesy-rock lyrics.
Singer Skills: Taylor brings a soulful, gritty, bluesy quality to the album with his singing. Rickey has really clean, smooth, and crisp vocal pieces that stand as the lead vocal on many of the songs. Joel brings a rock-vibe with a lot of passion and energy. Preston adds the finishing touches with his harmonies.
Overall Impression — 9
Compared to other albums: I think they compare favorable to bands today like My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses.
Most impressive songs: I enjoy listening to this record from start to finish. Every song could be a hit, in my opinion, if they were played on top 40 radio. "The Ceiling" seems to be the one that gets radio play on Sirius. I was first drawn to "Left My Woman" because of the great blend of vocals, acoustic guitar rhythms, and electric guitar leads. "Hard Times" and "Hard Wind" are also personal favorites because they are the most southern rock sounding with a little heavier guitar riffing. "American" is also a solid rock n roll tune; sort of in The Black Crowes vein. There are good singer/songwriter jams too though with "Got It All Wrong," "If You Don't Love Me," and "Tall Boots." Lastly, they add some more bluesy stuff on "I Can Have You" and "How" which are really powerful tunes.
Love/ Hate: I love that every song is well thought and has a place on the record. I don't hate anything about this album, but if I had to add something, I would extend some of the guitar solos. I get that it's not the '70s anymore but these guys often take some extended jams in the live shows and that is one element I don't think comes across on the record. In other words, I think they were confined (as many bands are) by having to keep album songs a reasonable length.
Stolen/ Lost: If stolen or lost, I would buy it again for sure. I already bought it on CD, vinyl, and mp3.