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The Lonely H crack open their fourth album with the pure rock 'n' roll; Memphis horn-tinged 'Try Again'. They lay down their mark with a track that could of fallen off 'Sticky Fingers'. Lead singer Mark Fredson has a expansive rock 'n' roll voice that has all the hallmarks of Jagger, Paul Rogers, and also sits him alongside Chris Robinson and Black Stone Cherry's Chris Roberston. 'Try Again' has a loose swagger that is a joy to dance in. Second track 'Runaway' is more concise, the swagger has been pulled back and with 'Runaway' they deliver a tight, sweet song that recalls Petty in his prime. It is a rather beguiling song that stays in your head. It's hard not be a little cynical about any song call 'Waiting On A Broken Heart', then the lyrical flare which fills this song steps it up from a feared melancholic overload. Musically it is suitably restrained, with some lovely slide and piano. Fredson outlines a bittersweet time that many of us have found ourselves in with such clarity that you can't help but dissolve into the song.
Then that swagger is back and the heartbreak put to one-side, in the first riff of 'Lights Burn Out'. This is a rich, upbeat song, taken up with some sublime harmonies and the rolling riff. It gets your foot tapping and begs to be played loud on a summer's day. The good times are kept up again on the Stax horn-led 'Head In The Clouds'. The Lonely H's move to Nashville has maybe found them in their spiritual home, certainly in a musical context. 'Head In The Clouds' is a timeless song that could have come out from the city's famous Music Row studios or the close-by Muscle Shoals. 'Head In The Clouds' is a gem of a song, and shows The Lonely H's calibre. It's a song that Jagger and Richards would kill for these days. After that double header of tracks the next song was going to have to be something pretty spectacular to stand out. 'Love Her Anyways', doesn't quite match 'Head In The Clouds', but by occupying a more driven, contemporary feel, it stands up as a solid example of how to do American rock 'n' roll. A fiery solo lights up the song and drives home a roaring finish.
The lights are brought down as 'Lights Down Low' steps away from the good times, pours a stiff drink, and thinks about "her". This song doesn't wallow and inhibits an introspection similar to that of Ryan Adams on 'Heartbreaker'. An aching, alt-country lament to longing and a slowly breaking heart. In the song's latter half a close and response vocal dynamic allows Fredson to unleash a surprising and rich falsetto. The groove rides again like early Black Crowes; 'Move On, Alright' has that foot-tapping, and breaks down into a true dirty groove that gets all of you dancing. Perhaps the loosest song here, then it is also one of the best. Different tempos collide against each other, resulting in an almost southern boogie joy of a song. The only fault is that it finishes too suddenly. 'Riding The Clutch' has a strange feel. Synths and low-slung drums make it feel like a track that would sit somewhere on a Jon Bon Jovi solo album. The synths lend it an '80s feel, but more 'Top Gun' than 'Lost Boys'. In the context of the album it doesn't seem to work as well as it could.
After the wrong footing of 'Riding The Clutch', closer 'Highway Heart' resets the equilibrium in perfect style. This is a fireside, gentle song that lets you wind down, as a warm summer's breeze washes over you. And you want to do nothing more than enjoy the warmth and your ice-cold beer. The Lonely H aren't rewriting or breaking new ground, but they have given us a sublime and enticing album that is quite a joy to listen too.
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