Wreckless Strangers Release Debut Album
Wreckless Strangers, despite the band’s origins, has the potential to become much more and the members seem to sense that. The band is a loose confederation of California based rock and soul music “all-stars” who decided to bring their talents together for this release. When the Sun and a Blue Star Collide is a fourteen-track debut that explores countless voices without ever sounding self-conscious and the uniformly high instrumental quality never relies on showy breaks and solos to capture listener’s attention. The songwriting is obviously steeped in an assortment of styles yet has a distinctive personal touch at every turn.
“Sun State” introduces listeners to the band’s bluesy influences. Many listeners will be able to dig into what the album offers the moment they hear the legendary Charlie Musselwhite’s harmonica growl defining the song’s opening. Amber Morris’ vocals deliver the goods; she’s ear-catching without ever dominating the song. She capitalizes on the tight economy of each line in the lyric, it doesn’t waste words, and there’s enough suggestiveness in both her singing and the words that it tantalizes listeners with possibilities.
David Noble’s voice leads the way during the second track “My Art”. It’s a virtual 180 degree turn from the bucket of blood blues of “Sun State”, few listeners are likely to complain. Wreckless Strangers forgo the electrified histrionics of the opener in favor of a gently rendered acoustic setting accentuated with Austin de Lone’s keyboards. We’re back in bluesy territory again, however, with “Ain’t No Thing” and Morris pairs her voice with Noble’s with memorable effect.
“You Just Hurt”, a successful single for the album, fits in well with the album’s larger scheme. It has an even stronger vocal arrangement than the surrounding material, no small achievement on an album rife with strong vocals. “Can’t Recall” is an interesting departure from the earlier songs with its pronounced theatrical slant without ever seeming misplaced. It is every bit as convincing, however, and only the light vocal effects may be a slight misjudgment.
Soul and epic power pop make for a successful songwriting marriage in the song “Alexa”. It’s a track straddling a line between the traditional and modern – there’s echoes of The White Stripes and The Black Keys running through the song without ever sounding imitative. Many will rate it among the album’s best tracks. Austin de Lone’s piano is a major part of what makes “Alexa” such a standout number and he continues riding a wave with the following track “Strangehold”. It’s another largely acoustic track and de Lone’s playing during the song’s second half is especially noteworthy.
The crashing roots rock jangle of “What’s Your Price” comes late in the album and ranks among the album’s highlights. There’s a sense of abandon that isn’t overplayed but, rather, orchestrated in such a way that it maximizes the song’s dynamic potential. The heart of Wreckless Strangers’ When the Sun and a Blue Star Collide is its songwriting and doesn’t exhaust listeners despite a long overall running time. It’s a sprawling effort well worth your time and money.