REVIEW - Sons Of Liberty - 'Aces & Eights' (Album)
Since making the transition from covers band to writing their own music back in 2017, Bristol's Sons Of Liberty have gradually been honing their songs and playing to reach the heights of this new album - 'Aces & Eights' - released last month. While previous EPs '...Shinola' and 'Aged In Oak', and debut full length release 'Animism' had many high points and great tuneage (as befits five guys with a wealth of experience) they feel now as stepping stones to 'Aces & Eights', which is a varied, vibrant and downright fantastic album.
A lot has been made of the southern rock influence on the Sons Of Liberty's sound but 'Aces & Eights' is far from simply being a retread of 'Gimme Back My Bullets' or 'Tomcattin''. The guitars of Fred Hale and Andy 'Moose' Muse at times invoke the spirit of Young & Young as much as Rossington & Collins, Rob Cooksley's gritty and gravelly vocals (perfectly suited to the material, by the way) still has a touch of a west country burr about it and the album is shot through with a British sensibility. Sure, at times it's more Birmingham, Alabama than Birmingham, West Midlands, but to label it simply as Southern Rock would do the album a great disservice.
Opener and single 'Ruby Starr' (about the Black Oak Arkansas singer) kicks the doors open in fine fashion, its AC/DC style guitars and 'chart material nuzzling' chorus setting the album's stall out in definitive fashion. 'Don't Hide Behind Your Weakness' rides in next on a loping groove and soulful ambience and is followed by 'Black Blizzard' - one of two stately ballads on the album - with its foreboding atmosphere and lyrics of climate change disaster. 'Beef Jerky Boogie' introduces the Sons Of Liberty wit (frequently seen on the album) in a swaggering fast-paced boogie with a superb twin guitar break. 'Damaged Reputation' is the closest to the stompin' classic rock of other bands out there at the moment while 'Fire & Gasoline sees Cooksley in particular fine form and the AC/DC influence once again on display - reminds me a little of 'War Machine' off 'Black Ice'. Those two tracks are intertwined with two tracks showing off the band's southern rock influences. 'Texas Hill Country' evokes pictures of that State perfectly while the honky country stylings of 'Doc's Remedy' is the perfect musical setting for Cooksley's tale of 'magic potions' and travelling medicine shows. 'I Come In Peace' is the other ballad on the album and shows that the band can do lighters-aloft ballads as well as anyone; this one comes complete with soaring guitar solos and affecting lyrics. 'Dead Man's Hand' is a tremendously funky 12 bar highlighting the rhythm section of Mark Thomas (bass) and Steve Byrne (drums) while 'Lights Are On' is another thumping, killer song designed for live shows with its audience involving chorus and driving rhythms. The album closes with 'Whiskey Is My Vaccine', a slow blues laced with the typical Sons Of Liberty good time feel.
'Aces & Eights' is a fabulous album from a fabulous band. With top-notch production from Josiah J Manning and the band on great form, it's an album that deserves much success - a success that these five 'top gents' thoroughly deserve. The band have a string of dates before the end of the year, so make sure you go to see them live after doing your homework and giving this album multiple plays. Despite the title, one thing this album isn't is a gamble - it's a safe bet and a sure-fire winner!
'Aces & Eights' is available on all the major digital sites and as a CD from the band's big cartel shop at www.sonsofliberty.bigcartel.com. Vinyl edition to come!