A Modern Man's Way To Improve

Royal Horses

Okemah Roads Records, 2020


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


A trio from the deep woods of Southern Mississippi, Shelby Kemp, Kenny Paul Mann and Daniel Firth, i.e. Royal Horses, sure do embrace the blues, rockabilly and folk lineage of their part of the country. Add in a strong chemistry, plenty of rawness and power to their craft, and you've got a striking debut album here. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Bottom Of The Chart” starts the album and wastes no time making an impression with warm guitar from Kemp, who also provides gritty yet melodic singing to the rugged southern rock opening. The title track follows with a percussively strong presence thanks to Firth's precise position behind the drum kit, as sturdy rhythm enters the landscape, and “Valley Of The New” follows with a calmer pulse of soulful songwriting with intricate picking and timeless, folk-friendly storytelling. “There She Walks” exits Side A with a thick display of emotive and rugged rock where Kemp's vocal acrobatics are front and center.

The back half of the album leads with the swift Americana and  playful, dance-friendly setting of “Leave A Light,” that even brings in a whistle solo, while “Call It War” displays incredible dynamics between Kemp's guitar and Mann's double bass prowess, as the crashing drums add much to the '70s-indebted atmosphere.

The last two tracks showcase even more diversity, where “Ruby Do” weaves frisky rockabilly around blues influenced ideas, and “BLD” exits the listen soft, dreamy and full of gentle guitar work and restrained drumming that flirts with psychedelic moments, too.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2021 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Okemah Roads Records, and is used for informational purposes only.