Hailing from Annan, Dumfries in Scotland, 13 Crowes have unveiled their sophomore album, Solway Star on German label Homebound Records.
The band cites influence from the likes of Chuck Ragan and Jared Hart as they look to serve as a mouthpiece for the working classes, a voice for the downtrodden and disillusioned.
Kicking off with “Gypsy Queen,” the Brits’ efforts to build an atmospheric and cascading anticipation with what should be a buoyant opener sums up the record as a whole, moving and thoughtful, but just a little off the mark.
“Solway Star” comes shooting in with a burst of Springsteen-esque frankness. Indeed, much of the Scottish rockers’ second full-length comes over as somewhat of an homage to The Boss, both thematically and with the stark vocal comparison between the New Jersey legend and 13 Crowes’ Cammy Black. Whilst this in itself is no bad thing, creatively the band backs themselves into a corner from which they are never quite able to fully extract themselves with the likes of “Jimmy Tick Tock” and “Nod to The Gods” both falling a little flat.
When it works, however, it’s thoroughly alluring, an intoxicating interplay of gritty ballads and vociferous, working-class battle cries. “Romantically Broke” glistens with equal parts defiance and hope, a sincere and longing for the retention of youth and a candid glimpse at Black’s upbringing.
“I’ve just been paid and I’ve got a couple of years left, before nature’s gave me all she can give me…” will resonate far and wide. “Dying Breed” pumps blood through the veins of the album, with its proletariat fists raised in a rousing battle cry for the 9-5ers.
“A75” and “We Broke the Rocks” both scream Brian Fallon; indeed when ‘Solway Star’ clicks, it hits you in all the same parts as Gaslight Anthem’s debut album Sink or Swim.
Much like the opener, closing track “DG12” is somewhat on the tepid side and sees Solway Star flutter off into the skies without the blast that it was crying out for.
13 Crowes are at their most affective when they blast out heart-on-sleeve, nostalgia-drenched rock ‘n’ roll. and whilst there’s plenty of that on show over the course of 10 tracks Solway Star feels slightly worn and lacking in creativity.