The latest album by Murfreesboro, Tennessee’s The Only Sons, is titled “American Stranger.” The cover depicts what could either be the sun breaking though ominous clouds, storm over, or the storm closing in, the last rays of light disappearing. The large sign arrow, destination obscured, gives no clue as to deluge or calm.
The album, full of songs about struggles, searching for direction, and defining one’s sense of self, points to former, but not without sight, and hope, of the latter. Along the way there’s death, a murder, and lots of fighting. The devil makes 3 appearances. Love is trouble, luck is fleeting, uncertainty is everywhere.
But it’s not a downer. If it’s a meditation of the youthful struggles of life (or American ‘strangers’ everywhere, alienated and hoping to stave off a flood) it’s on a bed of robust, ringing, Southern rock, especially on songs like “Put Up A Fight” and “Gone Down Swinging.” Produced by Glossary’s Joey Kneisser, the album was recorded in a church in Rockvale, TN which couldn’t have helped but add to the open, bright sound which serves as a nice counterpoint to Kent Eugene Goolsby’s raspy, hardened voice.
This is a grower. The music will pull you in, it sounds great when cranked up loud, and the lyrics reverberate on closer listen.
Also check out Goolsby’s solo release “Wide Eyed Son” from last year. It’s a mellower affair and includes a version of “Cutting Corners” which kicks off “American Stranger.” And it’s available for free at The Only Sons site (as is their more country-leaning 2009 album “Steel Hearts”).