Six albums in and Californian Classic Rockers Rival Sons are a well oiled machine, fans know just what to expect from them. Their newest album Feral Roots is a subtle tweak on the formula – yes it is still bluesy, 60s and 70s era Rock n Roll with excellent Dave Cobb production, but this time it is more intricate, more nuanced, more of a grower.
Much like the Rolling Stones these lads know how to start an album and as with Great Western Valkyrie and Hollow Bones before it, Feral Roots is no different. The earth shaking Gov’t Mule like riff of ‘Do Your Worst’, the massive hooks of ‘Sugar on the Bone’ and the sheer power and thunderous Mike Miley drumming of ‘Back in the Woods’ immediately draw you in, kicking things off marvellously.
From here the variety and subtlety increase, a potent acoustic intro gives way to the soaring chorus and sweet guitar melodies of ‘Look Away’. This focus on light and dark is on show in the title track, a similarly acoustic intro guides you towards a folk infused, Led Zeppelin inspired number. The evocative nature of these tracks reaches its zenith in ‘The End of Forever’, with Jay Buchanan‘s powerful vocals adding to the ominous atmosphere.
Instant gratification is not to be had here, Feral Roots charms take time to reveal themselves. It is not all intricacy and brooding seriousness though, as ‘Stood by me’ is a funky slice of Rolling Stones-esque blues extolling the virtues of loyalty and friendships. This song is boosted by the gospel backing singers, with this touch of soul key to the finale ‘Shooting Stars’ – a rousing, life giving anthem of massive proportions.
Whilst not as rocking and immediate as its predecessors, Feral Roots is a rich and finely balanced album of light and shade, positivity and solemnity, that rewards the patient.