L.A.’s The Americans return after a five year hiatus with a gnarly yet soulful set of songs.
Five years on from their debut album, ‘I’ll Be Yours’, the Los Angeles based trio, The Americans return with ‘Stand True’, a disc which might provide less variety than its predecessor, but one which hones their sound. While they ranged around their various roots on ‘I‘ll Be Yours’, here they take that album’s opening song, ‘Nevada’ and kind of run with its neon stained romance on a set of songs which are often about loss or dogged devotion.
The album opens with the title song which kicks off with a country styled finger-picking lope, quickly overtaken by a grandstanding chorus with crashing guitars and swathes of keyboard. It alternates between these before climaxing with a rousing and very gnarly guitar solo. As the band gyrate, singer Patrick Ferris also twists and turns, sounding stranded but steadfast in the face of rejection. The vocal oscillations of ‘Born With A Broken Heart’, allied to its tidal waves of guitar, make for a stormy emotional voyage which comes across as if Chris Isaak had overdosed on testosterone. Isaak’s yearning romances, suitably injected with a fine degree of bluster, come to mind again on the barnstorming ‘Romeo’ and on the soulful swoon of ‘What I Would Do’ which allows Ferris full rein to let loose vocally, coming across a little bit like Steve Marriott singing his heart out. In a similar vein is the album’s closing song, ‘Here With You’, a powerful blast of emotion which, and here we might be mistaken, seems to be about the rage and sorrow of losing someone to dementia. There’s also a finely balanced eulogy in the shape of ‘Farewell’, with the band just about limping along, somewhat akin to The Felice Brothers’ lop sided graveside ballads.
While ‘Guest Of Honor’ is a slight return to the more acoustic songs on their first album, they can take that template and run with it as on the beguiling ‘Give Way’ with its rippling guitars which flow into a fully fledged Creedence crunch, an interesting melange which reminds one of the late great Moby Grape. Turning up the dial, ‘Sore Bones’ is indeed a bone rattling noise fest, like Dinosaur Jr ramming into Tom Waits, and there’s a gritty, muddy take on The Band’s frontier narratives on the angst ridden ‘The Day I Let You Down’.