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| 9 October 2020 | Reply

Label: Atlantic Recording Corporation

Release Date: October 9, 2020

Rating: 100%

Reviewer: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur”

Acoustic is not my normal listening, but Shaw Blades tweaked that years ago and the latest from Smith & Myers only builds on my love of this vibe and sound.  Full disclosure, I don’t think the guys do much wrong during their day job in Shinedown, but this side project brings more to love to the table, especially some of the covers these guys have unleashed.  Disc opener “Not Mad Enough” is an amazing original track that drew me in from first listen.  The track featuring Brent Smith’s lead vocals and an amazing acoustic guitar performance from Zach Myers is a killer track that is as powerful unplugged and most songs are plugged in.  The lyrical content is telling of the current climate and makes you listen and think… exactly what great music does.  A cover of “Rockin’ In The Free World” follows and delivers the first version of the song I enjoyed listening to time and time again.  This reimaging keeps the spirit of the original intact while putting a current world spin on the vibe of the song as well as the delivery.  The harmony on the chorus adds depth while the lyrics tie the song to 2020 when Brent delivers the line “we’ve got department stores and toilet paper.”  Another cover – Post Malone’s “Better Now” hits now and I was totally struck with the tracks vibe.  Have to be honest – I am not familiar with the original, so had to Youtube that  version and it gives me appreciation for Myers & Smith’s ability to shift gears on a track sonically.  While I will probably not dial in the original, I will definitely keep this cool spin on rotation in my own collection.  INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart” allows Myers to shine on guitar while Smith’s vocals fill out the sound.  The original vibe is alive and well in this treatment.  While the acoustic delivery is perfect, my brains fills in bottom with the familiar rhythm section sound that I have heard countless times over the years, including the drumfills that are absent here.  Following trend is another cover that seems a bit left of center for the duo, when they tackle “Valerie,” previously recorded by The Zutons and pushed to the Number 2 spot on the UK charts by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse.  This version is just as brilliant and even more catchy thanks to Smith’s inviting vocal.  The songs lyrics play just as well if a male or female delivers them and Myers’ powerful guitar playing drives the songs groove home from open to close whether taking the lead through the bridge or strumming along during the verse.

“The Weight Of It All” kicks off like a Shinedown track, but when the heavy bottom end doesn’t kick in, we remember what we are digesting and the song takes over and envelopes you in its sound, power, and energy.  The duet of Smith’s voice and Myer’s piano builds the song sonically and create a wall of sound that speaks to the tandems compatibility musically.  The song is stronger each time I listen though the disc.  “Panic!” is a contagious track that draws you in through the verse, but sinks its hook into you at the chorus.  The lyric is another example of how current the duo can be while writing.  The song grows from open to close without becoming overpowering or overwhelming.  “Another original, “Coast To Coast,” comes along and adds to the discs amazing sound and vibe.  This piano driven track has a great rock flare woven into it without the big rock presentation.  The ebb and flow of the vocals with the piano and other percussive sounds build through the verse and into the chorus.  The lyrics, especially at the chorus, are some of the most contagious of the new tracks.  The song has a full sound that works its way into your soul and gets the foot tapping, the head banging, and the hands moving.  This is one of my favorite tracks on the ten song collection.  “Since You Were Mine” unfolds slowly, allowing the lyric and vocal to wash over you while the piano floats easily in the background before the crescendo hits at the chorus or the string arrangement joins the fray as the verse morphs into the next verse and the song builds with each word and emotive note.  This song is a great bookend of original tracks on the collection and makes me hungry for more new tracks (luckily that wait isn’t that long…).  Disc closer is an cool cover of The Righteous Brothers “Unchained Melody.”  Zach’s guitars have a different sound and feel to them, while Brent’s vocals drive the track sonically.  The emotionally delivery seems to come from deep within while the guitar work solidifies the foundation of a song that is all too familiar to most of us.  Looking at the bigger picture, these guys are totally comfortable writing #1 songs and putting out platinum albums.  They are also so comfortable in their respective creative skins they can drop the volume and the electric power and just be themselves on tunes they have either constructed or restructured classics we have all come to know and love… that is the mark of a true artist, or in this case – pair of artists!

Tracklisting: Not Mad Enough – Rockin’ In The Free World – The Weight Of It All – Better Now – Panic! – Never Tear Us Apart – Coast To Coast – Valerie – Since You Were Mine – Unchained Melody






Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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