Second album continues The Blue Highways’ upward trajectory.
A delve back through the Americana UK archives reveals a common theme when it comes to The Blue Highways. From their 2020 debut through a subsequent EP release, videos and live review, the references to Springsteen are a constant. Whether it is in the sound of lead singer Callum Lury’s vocals or the big, multi-layered tracks that smack of the E Street Band at full tilt, The Boss’s influence and Lury’s love affair with the man is pervasive.
A number of tracks on ‘Out On The Line’, the band’s second full album, differ little in this regard. ‘Nobody Lives Here Anymore’, ‘Running Out Of Time’ and ‘Man With No Name’ are all hewn from the same cloth and will satisfy anyone looking for more of the same. Where the album really scores though is where Lury changes tempo and reveals something a little more subtle and nuanced.
Opening track ‘Don’t Waste Your Prayers On Me’ dovetails nicely with ‘Tonight’. With their sparse arrangements, acoustic-led melody and harmonies from brothers Jack and Theo they are things of beauty. About as far removed from the rockers as is possible to get, ‘Tonight’ in particular is an album highpoint with its long ethereal sounding intro and Callum demonstrating, ala Springsteen, that rockers can gently emote as well as any.
‘Land Of The Free’ can lay claim to sharing that album highpoint. A mid-tempo number with jangling guitars and memorable riff it occupies the middle ground between the two musical extremes and showcases The Blue Highways at their very best.
The album closes with something completely different again with the soft shoe Texas shuffle of the title track. It is a lovely way to bring a highly accomplished album to a close. The band may have North London roots but their musical style feels like it belongs to another continent entirely. Callum has aimed the album at “the enduring spirit of the individual…….the quest for family, home, love and meaning and not to give up however difficult that may be.” Wherever home may be, The Blue Highways make music that is worthy of attention and ‘Out On The Line’ should continue to burnish the band’s growing reputation. Look out for a short album release tour planned for March/April.
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