Poppy southern rock full of vim and vigour.
Truth & Salvage Co. were formed in 2005 and opened for the Black Crowes in 2009 after being signed to the group’s Silver Arrow label. They made their debut album, produced by Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson, in 2010. ‘Atoms Form’ is a 14-track album made in 2012 that, bafflingly, the record label would not release as it wasn’t the Black Crowes meets The Band meets The Lumineers that they wanted. It is a great southern rock record crammed full of excellent, varied songs and all the better for being fresher, more energetic, poppier and less macho than some of this genre in the past. The six-piece band eventually produced a second album, ‘Pick Me Up’, which the record company would accept, but split in 2015 after years of heavy touring. They have reunited in 2022 for a couple of live dates in the US.
A number of the tracks sound as if they could have been on a Blackberry Smoke album, with keyboard and piano added to enhance the guitar and, like Blackberry Smoke, there is a variety of tempos with acoustic guitar used at times. Tracks like ‘Charm City’, ‘All Stand Tall’, ‘Silver Lining’ and ‘Back In Your Love’ are anthemic, with rousing choruses that one can imagine a crowd raucously singing along to, while others have echoes of seventies southern rock.
Highlights include the boogie of ‘Middle Island Creek’ where “the frogs and fishes and the crawdads meet” and they will be “fishing and a swimmin’ every day of the week”. If they ever get onto Later then you can guarantee that Jools will be enthusiastically joining in with Jerry Lee Lewis-style piano, and ‘Summertime’ which has a wonderful laid-back groove and tells of the singer’s musings about life as he thinks about the summer to come: “Woke up and I got to work kinda late/ Stuck inside a dream ‘bout a girl I used to date”.
Love and romance are welcome themes in the lyrics throughout. In ’24 hours’ the singer describes how he will drive across the country over state lines to see his lover in the flesh. ‘Special’ is a heartfelt love letter to the woman in his life with the words “Something different about you/Don’t ask me to try to explain it”. In the jaunty ‘So Sad’ which sounds as if it could have been on a seventies Top of the Pops, perhaps sung by Mungo Jerry, there are the great lines “So sad/to see/ you in your business clothes/ I was hoping/ that we could hang out” as his partner goes off to work. Even the more traditional ‘I’m Not Your Boyfriend’ with its well-worn story of a man who can’t stay with a woman because he needs his freedom and which includes the self-regarding “I’m twisted and gorgeous/ Everything you want” works well, with a hint of The Marshall Tucker Band in the vocals.
Let’s hope that the reunion leads to new music of this standard from them.