The LA quartet have built a lofty fanbase since 2011’s The Bomb Shelter Sessions. The Rolling Stones, Brian May and The Who have taken them on tour. They recently supported AC/DC to rapturous reception (and that’s from AC/DC fans, i.e. probably the hardest people in the world to win over, if you’re not actually AC/DC). You’d be forgiven for thinking they were a straight rock band – not a rock n’ soul band, with emphasis on the soul.
Is this new LP groundbreaking? No. But that’s hardly the point of a record like this. It’s a pleasure to hear for its easy-on-the-ear timelessness. There’s blues, old-school soul, Stones-esque rock’n’roll, Rn’B, more old-school soul…and they all roll into this largely ballad-led album. Our favourite of the softies, My Heart Won’t Fall Again, is a familiar but fresh take on Otis Redding-y crooning, while If You Loved Me is all classic heartache and hope. Sweet, sweet and sweet.
Not that 1 Hopeful Road is tame, or one-dimensional. Run Like The River makes a bluesy, dirty slide-filled entrance, skidding in like the coolest gunslinger in the Mississippi delta. Soon after, the foot-stomping Angel City takes us to California with a toothy-grinned shot of close harmonies and jazz-hands. And as the smoothy-smooth, soulman effects of Another Man’s Words start to ease off, Strike Your Light claps and bounces in for a big boogie.
To finish we get the revitalising Another Baby – like James Brown jamming some classic rock, after a few Red Bulls – and the pretty, acoustic Soul Serenity. Lush.
When it’s fun, it’s really fun. When it’s slow, it’s as smooth as smooth gets. As such, for simple retro enjoyment, this is an easy winner. Happy Friday, everyone.