Southall is a band that has been really gaining traction the past couple years. The group is packed with talent and it really shines through the songwriting and instrumental skills – the fanfare being evidence of their maturation and growing popularity because of these traits. Ever since their rebrand from “Read Southall Band” to their current name, there has been talk about this new album being a completely new sound. One thing that thankfully remained was the overwhelming majority of fans being in favor of any kind of progression and creative turn. That being said, this newest self-titled record sure stands out as some of Southall’s best work.
There is a big blues influence throughout a lot of the record while balancing it out with rootsy, twang. The Score is textbook Red Dirt country and the vocal performance by Read Southall and harmonization from Jeremee Knipp is a huge highlight from this track. When You’re Around was the third and final single released for this record. There is a nice rock edge and chugging percussive element that keeps the tune rolling, plus the extremely catchy melody does not hurt. Speaking of “rock edge”, Out Alive has some swampy, heavy riffing that accompany Southall’s excellent, energetic vocals. The guitar work is absolutely brilliant here when it comes to cementing a solid base lick to get your head bobbing.
By Surprise was released as the record’s second single and it is easily one of the strongest tracks on the list. The chiming guitar and rhythm section create a very pleasant sound all the way through the short, psychedelic bridge. One Day at a Time slows it down a bit with some nice licks and percussive shuffling, plus the songwriting here is great – as is the vocal delivery. Up next is not only the best song on the album, but some of the best work the group has ever put out. Scared Money, the first single released for this record, is a solid 10/10. The bluesy plucking on the guitar, harmonization during the chorus and Southall’s vocal work here are all masterfully executed and produced.
The next track, All I Have, is very reminiscent of something Kings Of Leon might put out, except Southall makes it their own. The buildup to the chorus is very smooth and well done. Spit It Out is an example of fantastic songwriting translated perfectly in to musical form, making it another top track on this record for fans who are first and foremost lyrical deep-divers. Up next is Get Busy (Till It’s Done), which is a fun, energetic rocker that could fit right in the middle of The Allman Brothers Band and Stevie Ray Vaughan in a Southern rock playlist. There are a lot of jam elements towards the end of the track that really put the cherry on top, leading me to believe that this could be a killer new addition to the group’s live setlist.
Ain’t Ever Gonna Change is very well-written and the aesthetic overall is very warm and pleasant to the ear, including more of that bluesy guitar work that the boys from Southall have been honing so masterfully. Rounding out the record is the final track, Short and Sweet. It’s a nice, slowed-down love song that Southall kills on vocals – the almost “whispering” approach is a fantastic touch.
Southall’s newest album doesn’t have a single bad song on it. The songwriting, vocal and musical performances and production are simply top tier and in their best form here. The guys should be proud of the work they’ve done here. Looking back on this release in the years to come, I think this will be one of the highlights of their discography that a lot of people will look back on as some of their best work. Saying that, I also feel like Southall is just getting started when it comes to creative direction and progression. There will be even better work to be released for years to come from this band, much like the heat that they just dropped on their self-titled album.
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Cover Photo by Steven Contreras.