Put simply: America is defined by its endless and very musical frontier. And The Americans’ new album, Stand True, plugs into that wide-open and always windy sagebrush soul with wonderful tunes, genuine passion, and clever arrangements that push beyond any pre-fab notion of roots Americana. This is throttle-open big screen music that juxtaposes dramatic rock with a beautiful vulnerability. This music is a really decent continuation of Walt Whitman’s uncontained poetic “barbaric yawp”, that in a very rock ‘n’ roll way, always manages to “hear America singing”.
The first song, ‘Stand True’, is a great cinematic song that begins with an almost confessional admission and ends with a stunning ritualist guitar solo that conjures the tough beauty of Neil Young and Crazy Horse. The tune roughs the rugged waves of Stephen Crane’s ‘The Open Boat’, and pledges ragged hope in the face of dramatic rock music uncertainty. The song is epic American rock ‘n’ roll.
And there’s more of (the before-mentioned) vulnerability. ‘Born With A Broken Heart’ soars with Patrick Ferris’ falsetto, and then it courses over a desert of emotions, while the band weaves a wonderful cobweb of sepia complexity with a tap root that touches the stuff of The Band’s Music From Big Pink, especially the tune, ‘To Kingdom Come’. And (oh my!) the final song, ‘Here With You’, just oozes the vocal passion of Rick Danko and erupts like ‘It Makes No Difference’ from Northern Lights and Southern Cross. Ditto for the country-flavoured ‘What Would I Do’. And the urgent heartbeat of ‘The Day I Let You Down’ certainly glances at the passion of Van Morrison. Big compliments, all around!
‘Give Way’ is more throttle open country rock, with even more of genuine house-rocking vulnerability.
‘Farewell’ oozes with a vintage Bob Dylan nonchalant “You got a lotta nerve” vibe.
‘Guest Of Honor’ is the acoustic lovelorn jewel. It’s a nice tune.
In great contrast, several songs kick up a lot more of that cinematic drama. ‘Romeo’ rocks like those great Del Lords did on their Frontier Days album. Then (Ouch!) the short ‘Sore Bones’ is Bone Machine Tom Waits brilliant! It also conjures the primitive pulse of Howe Gelb’s Giant Sand, circa Long Stem Rant.
The penultimate song, ‘Orion’, rocks with the very passion of The Flaming Groovies, with the wonderful Roy Loney on lead vocals. Of course (the before-mentioned) Rick Danko-soaked tune, ‘Here With You’, ends the album and tugs on the high stake emotions of any big river gin graced poker game. Indeed, Stand True, in the proud tradition of any beer-soaked ballroom, with its country dance steps and red ochre soulful vulnerability to burn, finds yet another way to sing about America’s endless and very musical frontier.
Artists’ website: https://www.theamericansmusic.com/home
‘The Day I Let You Down’: