True Strays “Homeward Bound” EP (Fieldview Records, 2019)

There’s no doubt True Strays can rock out.  The drums pound.  The cymbals crash.  The guitars crunch and slide and the bass bellows below it all.  Their latest EP, ‘Homeward Bound’ kicks off with the hard rock stomp of ‘Homesick Blues,’ characterized in the press materials as a song for “the wandering, zero hours contract, minimum wage wayfarer with no home to call their own.” 

Indeed, its lyrics make that clear: “Here’s to the vagabonds / Workforce warriors too / Fighting on the breadline / Fighting every day to get through.”  Although nothing groundbreaking, their hearts are in the right place.  Musically and vocally, although the tempo double-times in a couple of places to keep things interesting, you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking you’re hearing any number of new blues-based post-grunge hard rock bands working today.

There are moments on ‘Homeward Bound’ that elevate the EP above the mere generic: the hook-heavy ‘Born on the Freeway’ chugs along, propelled by a nasty slide, like prime Molly Hatchet; ‘Sabotage State of Mind’ adds a bluesy and melodic nocturnal vibe to the mix – it’s the best song here; while the pleasant title track closes the EP with slide guitar and the old stomp-and-clap of a back porch singalong.

True Strays show promise and ambition on ‘Homeward Bound’ and it’ll be interesting to see if they move toward more adventurous textures as displayed in a few spots here, or if they stick to the rigid, bashing hard rock that so many have done so much better before.

Bluesy hard rock that occasionally ventures beyond the generic
5/10

Author: Mike Elliott

A husband, father, writer, musician, former disc jockey and radio program director, lover of bad jokes, Dylan fanatic, and an all-around pretty good guy.

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