Homeward Bound – True Strays (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

As opening salvo Homesick Blues punches its way out of the speakers you realise that, if there was even any doubt, True Strays have lost none of their energy. Always great at putting the rock and the swing into old school blues styles, right from the off they remind us that there are few bands who can match them for the sheer power that they inject into the music. (Metallers take note, there is much more to impact than volume and playing every note in the book.)

The blues moves and ragged Americana sounds that they play with are as authentic as ever but it takes a modern band to be able to pack it with this amount of sonic TNT. If you are as bored as the rest of us of ex-rock band rhythm guitarists reinventing themselves as bluesmen just because they have a working knowledge of the basic scales and progressions, and because they could do a passable version of what everJohn Lee Hooker tune made it to a jeans commercial, then True Strays are just what you need.

Sabotage State of Mind is more measured but more emotive, the perfect balance of the more insular and intimate sound of the genre and some searing and soaring guitar work – poise and power in equal measure, Like A Shadow stomps its way through the listeners consciousness and Born of The Freeway feels like it exists at a point where the Mason-Dixon Line crosses the M4 corridor, a blend of off kilter American dreams and English touring realities.

The title track rounds things off nicely, a wonderful raggle-taggle, down home sing along that builds into the perfect party tune, one which I’m sure will act as the perfect live set swan song for a while to come. 

True Strays make sound tracks for an America which didn’t quite exist, a wonderful patchwork quilt of sounds and styles plucked and blended with modern rock, deft folk touches and honest bluegrass directness. And in doing so they sort of become a self-fulfilling prophecy, in searching for the sounds of that mythical past, they end making it a modern reality…how cool is that?

A great album as always, did you expect anything else?

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