Downtown Mystic’s last album Standing Still had a gnarly vintage rock vibe about it, channelling the Stones and the Groovies among others creating a fine footstompin’ stew. 18 months down the line Robert Allen returns with pretty much the same crew (minus Lance Doss, replaced by J.J. Jordan) with an album that retains much of the grit and stomp of its predecessor and adds some West Coast country rock in the vein of early Eagles for what is a robust outing, fairly traditional overall but capable at times of reminding one why traditional can be gobsmackingly good. The best example here is the sinewy, snarled blues of No Exceptions and its tremendous harp wailing, guitar thrashing rush which builds into a fine frenzy. It’s a bit like the Allman Brothers doing an Exile on Main St song as the slide guitars lock in battle with the harp. That harp is played by a chap called “Nasty Ned” and he appears again on the bluesy funked out trip that is Everything, a song that sounds like a more upbeat Little Feat. Way To Know stretches back to seventies FM radio land with its airwave friendly hooks and some fine slide guitar that soars over the melody. Lost and Found is another potential rock radio staple charging along with the harmonies edging into Eagles territory and again some scintillating guitar runs. Along with the Eagles, the Doobies come to mind as DM toot down this highway.
The freewheeling west coast country rock sound we mentioned earlier is evident from the start with the album opener, In The Cold. A fast paced acoustic rocker it captures the likes of Poco and the Eagles as guitars and mandolin mesh over the rhythm section and the harmonies soar, it’s a sparkling and invigorating song and is destined to please anyone who hankers after the first Eagles album and wish they hadn’t ever checked into that damn hotel. That other California band, Poco, seem to be the template for Can’t Let Go, a finely picked number with acoustic slide lacing the excellent voices. As for a ballad Allen delivers Some Day, a song soaked in rippling mandolin and washes of acoustic guitar which again recalls bands of yesteryear. It might be somewhat unfair to name check so many forebears here but Downtown Mystic deliver a fine line in good old fashioned rock and sometimes it’s good to recharge the batteries.