RIVAL SONS – Great Western Valkyrie (2014)
It has been around a year and three quarters since Classic Rock Magazine’s 2012 Breakthrough Artist RIVAL SONS last impressed us with the release of their ‘Head Down’ album. This is a record I have praised with very high regard, because it’s one of the most compelling examples of the true Classic Rock resurgence.
With a new bass player in the line-up Rival Sons returned to the studio earlier this year, and again with Grammy-nominated producer Dave Cobb in Nashville, Tennessee, the band recorded their 5th release “Great Western Valkyrie”, to be released June 6th in Europe, June 9th in UK and June 10th in USA.
“Great Western Valkyrie” immediately doesn’t hold back and straight away has your ass shaking with the opening track “Electric Man”, complete with guitarist Scott Holiday’s fuzzy guitar sound, commanding tight rhythms from drummer Mikey Miley and a funky bass groove. Jay Buchanan’s distinct vocals resonate power and electrifies throughout this track. It is a frantic opening which works really well leading into “Good Luck” which brings us back a few years and is full of old classic sounds. It has an infectious bubbly rhythm and groove.
“Secret” is a real beauty and one of many highlights. Again the whole band is completely coherent throughout this one. This song swings like a beast. ”Play The Fool”, with a slightly reduced tempo, has the beats driving this track with its stop/start rock and roll guitar groove, including a nice little instrumental break towards the end.
The slowdown cleverly blends its way further to another highlight “Good Things”. This is a real gem that has that old whiskey soaked bluesy vibe, like slowly kicking back chilling in the setting sun. New bassist Dave Beste shines throughout this one, providing sublime sultry grooves while Jay croons with warm mellow vocals all over.
The most straightforward rocking track on the album and first official single “Open My Eyes” which has everything to be a successful hit: a catchy riff work, a solid rhythmic backbone and soaring vocals. It does sound ever so slightly out of place with the context of the rest of the album. It is however, still a thunderous, energetic melodic monster which should become a crowd pleaser on the live stage.
The next highlight is the brilliant “Belle Starr”. This one musically meanders and leads you to various moods, and is one of the most unlike Rival Sons tracks on the CD. Beginning with the fuzz of Scott’s guitar and funk laden grooves and rhythms from the bass, Miley rocks on the drums here and leads the charge. The chorus changes pace and we are lead to a slower, mellow dreamy soundscape. There is a slight progressive feel to the song, and sounding different is part of the appeal.
“Great Western Valkyrie” is full of surprises and highlights, and another arrives in the form of what I believe could be Rival Sons’ best ballad to date; “Where I Have been”. This is super smooth throughout, full of charm and with Jay giving it so much soul, sincerity and feeling the song really does move you. Jay’s voice has never sounded purer.
I was already blown away by the content of the album before hear the final track “Destination On Course”. After a mightily impressive melodic opening, Jay, along with the slow dragging rhythms from Miley and Dave, takes you to a dreamlike place during the verse. It slowly builds and a couple of minutes in that’s when it hit me. My jaw dropped. What can only be described as a high pitched, heavenly, divine falsetto choir, along with the finest instrumental I have ever heard Rival Sons play. Everything clicked into place at that one moment, ending the album in an epic way and leaving you breathless.
Rival Sons previous album was so polished and impressive I thought it would be very difficult to match never mind beat. They have pulled it off though.
With the help and mighty collaboration with producer Dave Cobb yet again, Rival Sons have produced an Epic album that has classic and fresh written all over it.
“Great Western Valkyrie” sounds timeless, and as well as containing the soulful bluesy infused Classic Rock we know and love so well, Rival Sons have also given us something different, something new, taking us to new places I could never have predicted. The quality of their output and the reverence with which they honour the sounds that they throw liberally into their melting pot, makes their harvest hugely impressive.
“Great Western Valkyrie” stampedes every other record Rival Sons have put out, keeping this limb of Classic Rock relevant with their own dynamism, and are building a back catalogue of immense quality.
01 – Electric Man
02 – Good Luck
03 – Secret
04 – Play The Fool
05 – Good Things
06 – Open My Eyes
07 – Rich And The Poor
08 – Belle Starr
09 – Where I’ve Been
10 – Destination On Course
Jay Buchanan – Vocals
Scott Holiday – Guitar
Dave Beste – Bass
Michael Miley – Drums