Thirteen Stars, ‘Finest Ramshackle Jam’ album review
This band have toured pretty much relentlessly over the last 10 years or so, and 2015 must have been the time I first heard of them at HRH Highway to Hell, where they came joint first with Bigfoot. Since then I saw them support Stone Broken in a sweaty The Musician pub in Leicester.
Their second full length release, the 15-track ‘Finest Ramshackle Jam’ album was recorded at Doncaster’s Axis Studios (Massive Wagons, Black Spiders) and engineered by Matt Elliss, with co-production by Elliss and Thirteen Stars’ frontman Hoss.
The raspy vocals are instantly recognisable as the album opens with a sure crowd pleaser ‘I’m Ready’ which seems to say it all really. Bring it on. There’s a lovely retro feel to the mellow and smooth ‘Running So Long’, which was their first single release off the album, but it isn’t until ‘Give It Good’ that I sit up and really take notice. The catchy riff of this funky bluesy number jingles in my mind and the guitar work is compelling on its own.
The album continues to get better and better as ‘Sleeping’ and ‘Sorcery’ show a grittier and rockier edge, the deep vocals penetrating the psyche and the beat catchy as hell.
There’s a 50s feel to heartwarming and feelgood track ‘Be There’, and the repetitive yet emotive ‘I’d Do Anything’ expresses conviction and passion, while a ZZ Top influence is immediately evident in ‘Mint Jelly’ which is huge fun and authentically southern sounding, complete with honky tonk keys in the background.
Current release ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ is actually a heartfelt and genuine sentiment and a great track musically, cleverly layered and with lush backing vocals which gel beautifully. The unrelenting beat of the drums are what stands out for me in ‘Razor’s Edge’; the pace and ferocity melt my cold heart and force me to join in on my air instruments…
I seem to be amongst the few people not blown away by ‘Break It Down Slowly’ but it is a grower and the guitar work is superb, it’s just a bit too jumbled an arrangement for my taste. The album closes with ‘Soldier’ a 7-minute epic finale with a haunting acoustic intro, a strong pounding beat and some amazing licks.
This is a very mixed album, different styles and velocity throughout, a great album for fans and a good introduction to the band if you are just discovering them. Despite my love of this genre though, this band have never quite done it for me, they never quite reach my soft spots – each to his own I hear you say and yes of course. The album shows a real talent and passion and is a must have for fans. It’s just not necessarily my bag.
Running So Long
Give It Good
Be There In The Morning
I’d Do Anything
Keep Calm and Carry On
Break It Down Slowly
Standout tracks: Sleeping, Sorcery, Mint Jelly, Razor’s Edge
For more information, check out their website https://www.thirteenstarsuk.com/ or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ThirteenStars/