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| 13 November 2020 | Reply

Label: Wicked Cool Records

Release Date: September 18, 2020

Rating: 100%

Reviewer: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

After reviewing (and TOTALLY digging) the bands last effort, This Is The Sound, I knew I had to check this disc out.  After speaking with Ryan before it’s release and getting more of the back story, this has been spinning over and over on my player – if only I had more time to get my reviews out!!!  Disc opener “Only A Dream” kicks us off and while the vein is different, the enjoyment is just as good the second time around.  The cadence of the track combined with the stripped back Ryan & The Harlequins makes this sound contagious.  The chorus gets you singing along before you realize you are doing it.  “Oh No” is a cool track featuring Letters To Cleo’s Kay Hanley.  If nothing else, you need to pay careful attention to the lyrics – this is a FUN song.  The track has a cool pop sensibility that gets the foot tapping and body chair dancing.  This is so good, from the rhythm section and guitars to the layered vocals.  “Out Of My League” is one of my favorite tracks lyrically on this disc.  The pop sensibility woven into the songs DNA creates a killer vibe that plays out through the verses, chorus, and transitions.  The sing-song feel of the lyrics gets you into the track and relating to it with each new stanza.  Let’s be honest – the man can write songs!  “Can I Get An Amen” is a cool track that benefits from a HUGE vocal and cool lyric.  While the song feels like a track the church choir may embrace and blend between hymns make no mistake, this song is more about the forgiveness than the blessing itself.  Hamilton bares his soul and brings us into his perceived trip on the highway to hell.  “Newcastle Charm” kicks off with some heavy handed drumming and soon the bass and guitars join the fray.  While the song is different sonically, I cannot help but think if Ginger & The Wildhearts when I hear the chorus and a reference to Geordie… if you know, you know (if you don’t go figure it out).  This song has an upbeat vibe tossed in that keeps the song light and fun, especially when the piano and guitar drive the bridge.  Disc closer “Pick Yourself Up” is the ultimate song of hope Ryan has referred to time and time again.  The lyric gives hope, the music lifts you up and gets you smiling and looking for the next good thing… and might just make you start the disc over again.

“Jesus & John Lennon” keeps the fun groove and vibe intact, contrary to the back story of where a lot of these songs come from.  The chorus is one of the best ever recorded and draws you in time and time again (but so does EVERY song on this disc).  The guitars on this one are solid and keep the song flowing from open to close and Hamilton’s layered vocals on the transitions and bridge build the sound of the track.  “Let’s Go Slow” has that mood tossed in that brings two ends of the spectrum together… the excitement of a new relationship combined with that bitter taste from the last bad ending.  The music supports the vocals and the nuances in the instrumentation add depth to the track and disc.  “Don’t Fall Apart” slows the pace of the disc down and lets Ryan once again strip back not only the music, but the facade.  He let’s us in lyrically, but also through his emotionally driven vocal that helps us all feel like there is hope.  As he explained to me, this is an album of hope and this song exemplifies that sentiment.  Ryan makes a left turn and throws a cool cover on the disc when he channels his best Tom Petty on his version of “Southern Accents.”  If I didn’t know any better, I would think Hamilton penned this track, as it fits the mood and groove of the disc.  While mourning the past and celebrating the future, he also gives a nod to his roots.  “We Gave It Hell” is a song that helps clear the air and gives everybody their out in a bad relationship… sometimes no matter how hardyou try it just won’t go.  The music however goes and it is a cool deep rooted sound that carries the vocals from intro to chorus to outro.  The slide / dobro sound in the mix gives an added feel to the song and vocals.  When the drums kick in and join the fray, we get a full southern feel that makes this song work and fit.  When Ryan and I spoke, we joked about this being the album of the pandemic… I am not joking when I tell you this just may be the best album I have hear all year (and I have heard a lot of music during the year).  Well done Ryan, but next time, let’s not have a sad story spurring you to write, but until then I have these eleven tracks.

Tracklisting: Only A Dream – Oh No – Jesus & John Lennon – Out Of My League – Let’s Go Slow – Can I Get An Amen – Don’t Fall Apart – Newcastle Charm – Southern Accents – We Gave It Hell – Pick Yourself Up






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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