Maybe it’s being from Jersey that inflames the passion, deep dedication and profound introspection of home grown musicians. The Iron Bridge Band from the Garden State give every ounce of themselves while playing off the full range of emotions and even making informed topical observations without sacrificing the energy, spirit and healing power of rock.
The explosive quintet with the addition of singer Amy Anderson and guest artists including Jessie Wagner (lead and background vocals) and Jeff Levine (piano and Hammond B-3 organ), is led by guitarist and songwriter Stephen “Jude” Walsh, a firebrand with taste, tone and technique. Golden-throated lead singer Chandler Mogel lays bare his soul in every lyric as does Anderson on her star turn, while the solid granite husband and wife rhythm section of drummer Scott Suky and bassist Lanie groove effortlessly. Following their critically acclaimed debut Road Not Taken (2013), the band returns triumphantly with 12 original tracks showing stunning artistic evolution. The opening crunching, strutting anthem “A Little Too High” rocks hard with Mogel revealing his rock ‘n’ roll life while defiantly proclaiming “I got a little too high for heaven and a little too close to hell” in the chorus as Walsh breaks the figurative bounds of musical gravity with his soaring guitar. The riff-rocking “Black Sheep’s Son” is a spurned lover’s furious lament with “You tease me and please me, you take me round the back. But it’s out in the open, you call the kettle black.” The elegiac “The Fall” changes direction with a bittersweet romantic plea, a memorably melodic guitar hook and the unforgettable, gorgeously harmonized chorus “Because I’m waiting, for the fall. With some luck by then we’ll stand on common ground” in what should become a future classic.
“American Boss” offers a bold, scathing commentary on contemporary divisive politics by questioning “Do your actions bother you, blinded by red, white and blue? Or does the truth not matter much to you? Does your ignorance betray what we need to say, we just wanna find our way to the USA” as the unaccompanied snare drum cadence by Nick Suky creates a haunting coda. The Southern rocking “Raleigh” underscores the story of a special survivor with “Face the wind ‘cause you were born against the grain, and for sure there’s someone out there who’s the same” containing a sweet coda with Mogel and Walsh opening their hearts wide to the promise of love. The Allman-esque “Every” is a piquant declaration to an object of affection with poetic lines like “Every time I see your face, every dream falls into place, I’m never lonely” as Walsh unfurls sensuously melodic guitar lines.
With the Suky bass/drums tandem churning like a Harley-Davidson rhythm machine, “Mark Twain” blasts killer blues-rock riffs and classic Americana lyrics worthy of the Band with Mogel imprinting “She remembers mama’s words that got her by, ‘Love don’t pay the bills, but it lights a flame’” Walsh tossing off slithery slide licks with aplomb. Racing forward, “Backwoods Charm (A Southern Gothic)” weaves a cautionary tale about a mythical scammer traveling the highways and causeways described as “His mama always told him he was born with backwoods charm and someday he’d make daddy buy the farm” with Lanie Suky virtually carrying the song with her propulsive bass. The authentic Muscle Shoals/Stax vibe on the ballad “Day Gets Me Down” features Mogel sharing lead chores with guest belter Jessie Wagner slyly answering his “It’s always the moon that brings out the best in me, yeah, it’s never the sun that finds me found” with “Oh, if I’m ever lonely baby, I’m gonna reach out to you. And if you ever need me, honey, just let your train roll right on through.”
Walsh additionally shows he is a guitar talent to be reckoned with via his solo instrumental ballad “Faded” where he accompanies his beautiful, rich lead lines with alternating well-placed chords. The group returns with the wistful folk rock of “Wilderness” as Mogel reaches his silken higher register while using “wilderness” and the search for a brother as a chillingly poetic metaphor for the terror of 9/11 with lyrics like “In the midst I can swallow the guilt, but I can’t let it out, that’s not how I’m built.” Amy Anderson takes the spotlight for the closing, haunting, minor key “Light in August” in a duet with Walsh who sensitively surrounds her with perfect accompaniment as she uses her satin-smooth, mellifluous pipes to lament “In the light of the painted pictures fall from my face. Fear of time, what once was mine and every love that came to stay.”
The Iron Bridge Band is a talented, ambitious band of brothers and sisters whose reach matches their grasp in creating timeless music, and the listener is the lucky beneficiary. By turns rollicking, rambunctious, thoughtful and soothing, they provide a soundtrack for life and love. In these turbulent times, it is a rare and welcome, spiritually nourishing refuge on which to depend.
Uniquely distinctive and instantly recognizable, Iron Bridge Band has a sound that is both familiar and fresh. Influenced by vinyl and cassette-era rock, they bring together classic rock n’ roll, fused with roots-rock and hints of southern soul by way of thoughtfully crafted songs, four-part vocal harmonies and reflective lyrics. The music is an up-beat collaboration of edgy melodic guitar riffs, laden with fist pumping, sing-along hooks.
Iron Bridge Band is a true band in every sense and their music is a collaboration of authentic musicians who feel, groove and vibe. They bring intimacy and that intangible musical connection you can’t quantify with just pure musicianship alone. Their music has depth, realism, tells a story and is felt before it is heard. The band has been writing, recording and performing together since 2010 and has opened for national touring acts such as The Outlaws, Blackhawk and John Eddie.
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