As I think of Rival Sons I cannot help but smile with absolute and pure delight. I find them exciting, fascinating and completely thrilling. When I first heard that there was to be a fourth record I knew straight away just how superb it was going to be.
As I sit here now with their new album ‘Head Down’ I can tell you I am absolutely ecstatic and thrilled by this record.
‘Head Down’ is such a highly anticipated album - raw and powerful. Miley, Jay, Robin and Scott have completely hit the nail on the head. They have created fantastic musical landscapes in songs like ‘Nava’, and ‘Manifest Destiny pt 1’. The use of bird song, combined with Scott’s guitar work on this track is simply stunning. The guys give us pure full on rock ‘n’roll tracks such as ‘Keep on Swinging’, ‘All The Way’ & ‘The Heist’. We also have positively gorgeous ballads such as ‘True’, and ‘Jordan’ which I am not ashamed to say makes me cry every time.
There are so many aspects to this record, you can break down each song and find a million different things to listen to. The musical synergy between the guys is immense and such a great thing to hear.
The more I listen to this record the more I realise that now in 2012 we are here, at the start of something really special. I feel that in many years to come I will be looking back at this time, with my Rival Sons LP’s in hand with a smile on my face and memories about the good ol' days when I was watching these guys in small and intimate venues. It will happen. So buckle up, because this is gonna be one hell of a ride!
The first track ‘Keep on Swinging’ is the inspiration for the album title ‘Head Down’. The lyrics were taken from this song, but they also state exactly where the band is at this point in time. In the first lyrics of the song Jay belts out “One day my prayers are gonna be answered, for so long, I’ve been hungry for something else, there’s a will, there’s way, I work hard because at the end of the day the lord helps those, that help themselves” as he breaks into the chorus “Keep my head down, gotta keep on swinging’. This is a song laced to the nines with pure unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll. Yet where the album is concerned it barely scratches the surface of what ‘Head Down’ in its entirety has to offer.
‘Wild Animal’ has a slightly different feel about it, softer in a way; I think Jay’s vocals bring a velvet tone to the track as you can hear the smoothness in his voice. Robin’s bass line follows the melody of the guitar and rhythm of the drums, with some really interesting tones. I find that I can hear each of the guys show a lot of self-expression, not only within this song but throughout the entire album.
My favourite thing so far about ‘Head Down’ is the feel of it. It’s fair enough to dissect it and look at the musicality of the guys as a band and individual musicians, but it’s how it makes me feel that is important. ‘Head Down’ is such a big step ahead from its predecessor ‘Pressure and Time’ if this is how much they can grow in a year, imagine the next five years! Rival Sons are a breath of fresh air and are rock ‘n’ roll to the core.
‘Run From Revelation’ starts off quite hard and heavy before relaxing into a slow swagger, the bass weaves in and out between the vocals and drums in quite an elegant manner. I find it very enticing as it saunters along smoothly and seductively. The guitar melody is juicy as hell, while the drums are mouth wateringly tasty. Miley has a fantastic style of playing and is very quickly becoming one of my favourite drummers by far. To quote my daughter Amber-Rose as she heard it for the first time “I love it!!!!”
‘Jordan’ is a beautifully calming song, like waves against the sand on a quiet sunny morning. It’s like your mother embracing you as a child and for that moment, you know that you are going to be completely safe. The Lyrics are divine and the softness of Jay’s voice brings such warmth to the song. ‘Jordan’ is incredibly touching with its words. You can feel the story. Jay’s vocals are emotive and alluring. Some of the effects that Scott uses at the peak of the track are immense and provide the perfect soothing atmosphere.
‘All The Way’ is a stand out track for me. I love the energy and the way Jay tells us “We found our focus and we found our steam, rest of our lives this time we’re gonna fight for this dream, this time we’re going all the way’ A brilliantly written blues track in perfect Rival Sons fashion with their hunger and their appetite ever present.
Another track that stands out to me is ‘Nava’. It’s an instrumental track that to me is quite euphoric as the bird song plays quietly in the back ground to a wonderfully played and written guitar melody that I can only describe as sounding like pure beauty living in complete harmony with the rest of the world.
Rival Sons live to keep their music dangerous, visceral, and honest. ‘Head Down’ is nothing short of an amazing record that achieves exactly this. As Scott says “Rock and Roll can’t be over-thought, and if it is, it loses its immediacy and instinct … it needs to be a knife fight, not a knife dance.” That is exactly what this record achieves.
There is no doubt in my mind that ‘Head Down’ is a definite turning point. ‘Head Down’ is Rival Sons at their best, and a much more intricate and detailed album than ‘Pressure & Time’. In its making anybody who wasn’t paying attention before, will be now. Rival Sons are definitely going all the way.
Rival Sons give 'An Introduction' to Head Down:
All articles are © Michelle Nevill