The Blue Highways release Out On The Line on March 31st. One of the lines in ‘Nobody Lives Here Any More’ (below) is “Rules are made to be broken”. So…to start where I’d usually finish:
The Blue Highways are on tour at the end of March and April – and I’ve already put in my diary the date of the gig nearest to me. If they can do live – and there are videos on YouTube that suggest this won’t be a problem – what they do on this album, they have a great year ahead of them. I’d add, if they can build on this second album as they’ve built on the first, they have a great career ahead of them.
Nor would I normally compare as much as in the next paragraph, but this strikes me as an album to take The Blue Highways into much bigger venues than the ones on the planned tour. The band are a little away from the core of folking.com’s usual style of artist, but if you want to rock out and feel good, this is an album for it. My own (years ago) Friday night last-song-to-blast-loud-before-going-on-town was Springsteen’s ‘For You’ and there is no better compliment to their sound than to say The Blue Highways are in the territory of early Springsteen and Southside Johnny; if you’re younger, think Gaslight Anthem’s ‘American Slang’ era. Friday night music at its most enjoyable.
Other rocking tracks to look for include ‘Running Out of Time’ and ‘Streetlights’ while, with a slower build but with an equally stretched vocal grabbing your heart in the way that only classic rock vocalists can, you could also try ‘Land of the Free’ and ‘Man With No Name’.
The Blue Highways are based around singer Callum Lury with his brothers Jack (lead guitar) and Theo (drums). Just as we can’t live at full range all our lives, an album without shades of style can be too much. While I’ve talked so far about the rockier tracks, there is another side.
Callum Lury’s vocal is gentler, more subtle on tracks such as ‘Tonight’ or ‘Don’t Waste Your Prayers On Me’ – but it’s no less expressive. We can listen as intently to the traveller talking quietly, one-on-one, in the corner of the bar as much as we do when they’re loud, to the whole bar, telling tales of the mysteries and excitements of the road. Lury’s vocal is as expressive on the quieter tracks as on the rockers; the band play gentler emotion as powerfully as they rock and these, too, grab the attention. In between there are songs such as ‘Rio Grande’ on which Lury’s vocal begins thoughtfully with a piano and then soars away even further than the ascending band behind him.
I’m already looking forward to a Friday night out in a short time; this is a cracking album.
Post-script if you were wondering as I was: Blue Highways: A Journey Into America is a book by William Least Heat Moon. The author lost his job, took to the road and wrote about his travels. He called it ‘Blue Highways’ because on old maps the back roads were coloured blue.
The final track on the album gives the album its title and, though a train journey, has a similar sense of travel:
“…. gonna get off somewhere that sounds like home
Just a bit of money my backpack and a mobile phone
Maybe I can’t get it right,
Settle down in a little house with a beautiful wife.
Gonna try it one more time, put it all out on the line
Find somewhere there’s no-around to judge
No-one that hates me, no-one who knows me, no-one I used to love
There’s a new world waitin’ I just have to find it
Gonna try it one more time put it all out on the line
Think I’m gonna make it this time
Put it all out on the line, put it all out on the line, put it all out on the line”
Artist’s website: https://thebluehighwaysband.com
‘Nobody Lives Here Any More’ – official video: