Caleb Johnson & the Ramblin’ Saints – ‘Born From Southern Ground’ – Album Review

Caleb Johnson came to us via American Idol, but don’t let they fool you into dismissing him because that would be a huge mistake on your part.  Caleb’s debut album came out in 2014 very quickly after winning said singing competition and the album did pretty well, but the record company didn’t know what to do with him and Caleb was rather unhappy with them and with the album as he was forced to do songs he didn’t necessarily like.  After a long battle and finally breaking free from that contract, Caleb is back 5 years later with the album he wanted to make as his first album.  This is the real Caleb Johnson.

Caleb Johnson now has a band called ‘The Ramblin’ Saints’ and what a backing band they are. The album shows every influence that has impacted his life from classic rock, southern rock, soul and even a little funk all with one of the most powerful voices in rock today on full display.  If you really had to classify this album, it is straight-up, pure rock & roll.

The album opens with “Hanging On” with a nice Hammond Organ and then a build up until it rocks out which is pure classic rock in style and mixed with some lovely ladies that do the backing vocals on this (and other songs) that also adds a little soulful touch to the song.

The next song, “Solid Gold”, has a Rival Sons vibe probably because it was co-written with Jay Buchanan of the band along with Blair Daily.  It is bluesy piece and that guitar sounds a lot like the new Rival Sons album which is a very good thing.

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Rival Sons – ‘Feral Roots’ – Album Review

Rival Sons are now on their sixth studio album and we are just shy of 10 years since the debut album and I hate to admit that I had only been a casual fan throughout.  That has since changed with the release of ‘Feral Roots’.  There is no need to be casual as a deep dive is needed to explore all the textures they have delivered over the years.

Why the change of heart?  Well, easily it is this album.  But before we get into the good of this album, we have to explore the bad.  What is bad about this album?  Well, not a damn thing!

From the opening fuzzy guitar riffs of “Do Your Worst”, Rival Sons come out swinging with a pure rock & roll album.  It is bluesy, it is heavy, it is retro, it is fan’freaking’tastic.  This is what Rock & Roll music should sound like.

What is the best part of this album?  Well, it is the drumming of Mike Miley.  Not since Kiss’ Creatures of the Night album have the drums sounded so great and been such an integral part of the sound of an album.  His NRA approved, machine gun barrage of drumming to open “Back in the Woods” had me screaming as I was driving down the road at 6am in the morning heading to work.

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