Friday 1 August 2014

Great Western Rock Band Rival Sons

With every record that Californian band Rival Sons releases, they get more successful and their popularity gradually increases. A few years back they were playing the smaller clubs, now they have no trouble filling up larger venues. And for a good reason, since the band is playing blues rock of high quality, both on recordings as on live on stage. And with every new record the four piece keeps improving themselves, which is no different for their fifth album Great Western Valkyrie.

Rival Sons - Great Western Valkyrie (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

On this album they hired good friend Ike Owens, former keyboard player for The Mars Volta who also worked with Jack White. It makes the songs sound more full and dramatic where needed. Singer Jay Buchanan and his impressive voice, and guitar player Scott Holiday with his amazing guitar skills, still know how to leave an impression. Buchanan is flexing his vocal chords for wonderful belches or for powerful screams like on 'Secret'. Holiday showcases great riffs but always knows how to pace himself, so that moments where he's making his guitar scream, sound even more impressive.

The rhythm section, consisting of drummer Michael Miley and new bass player Dave Beste, is supporting the songs very effectively. It's striking how authentic the record sounds and is bringing the sound of the sixties alive. The beginning of the album is filled with roaring hard rock songs like 'Electric Man' and 'Play The Fool', where halfway the album ballads are taking over, without losing momentum. On the contrary, the band sounds at its best at these moments, with a crooning Buchanan now and then and weeping guitars. 'Belle Starr' is alternating between prog rock parts and ballad. The song is about the female outlaw Belle Starr from the Wild West period in the US. Buchanan is singing a tragic tale about her and calls her "the great western Valkyrie", a woman who decides about life and death, that gives the album its title.

Rival Sons once again have taken another step forward with the ten songs on Great Western Valkyrie. Maybe they don't go outside the boundaries of the genre, but at the same time they are staying loyal to their own principles. No use of superfluous production tricks, but as good as possible trying to record everything live, so the listener knows what he can expect. Kind of "what you hear is what you get" and that's a whole lot on this new record.

This review has been published on Festivalinfo in Dutch over here.

Listen to 'Great Western Valkyrie' on Spotify.

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