Grizzly electric guitar destruction that gives way to humble harmonies lyrically derived from a folky prose. Strings that dance across strutting basslines as full of rich vitality as they are striking textures. Boisterous balladry sung from the heart of a dusty troubadour. Melodic riffs that crush us with their cutting tonality and heavy bottom-end. Whether it be the opening salvo of “The Devil Lives in the South,” the breezy bounce of “Lovin’ I Gave You,” the guttural grooving of “Friday Night” or the earnest admissions of “Whiskey Kisses,” The American Revival aren’t going to stop until they’ve got you swinging to their beefy beats and hard rocking rhythm in the new album The Saint and The Sinner, and while some country bands are more than content to draw from the same well as their ancestors, this is one group that isn’t interested in recycling anything from the past. The Saint and The Sinner is a ten song anthology of country-rock bruisers of the most erudite variety, and it has been making a big splash with critics like myself well before its official release date.
The production quality here is inarguably top shelf and does an excellent job of preserving the organic tone that The American Revival bring with them into the studio. “Whiskey Kisses,” “On My Way” and the title track all sport really sophisticated master mixes that don’t allow for a single stitch of sonic intensity to go unnoticed in the grander scheme of things, and while the smoky vocals are often the primary focus of our attention in songs like “Texas Weather” and “Remember This,” they’re never the only element leaving us captivated. The American Revival, unlike a lot of their country counterparts, aren’t interested in being a one-note band, and they demonstrate just how multidimensional their sound is in The Saint and The Sinner without ever coming off as disjointed or overly experimental. Sure, “Lovin’ I Gave You” and “Rise & Fall” flirt with some pretty left-field song structures, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call them overtly avant-garde in nature. While not the sonic explorer that Timber’s The Family or Roses & Cigarettes’ Echoes and Silenceare, The Saint and The Sinner nevertheless belongs in the top tier of modern country records that push the boundaries of the genre as far as they can without going off the rails into inaccessible territory.
Diversely appointed but boasting a straightforward guitar twang that keeps its stylization wildly appealing to mainstream fans and more devoted audiophiles alike, the new album from The American Revival is unquestionably one of the most heartfelt and entrancing records I’ve heard out of country music or rock n’ roll this year, and furthermore, it shines the spotlight on a rising talent within the industry that isn’t concerned with the creative parameters set forth by their predecessors. The Saint and The Sinner is intrepidly expressive, melodically buoyant and terribly hard to put down once it’s been picked up for the first time, and you can bet everything you’ve got that if this is setting the tempo for future releases by the band, then this won’t be the only occasion on which they’re in the headlines.
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