Review ­: No Sinner – 'Old Habits Die Hard'

Whilst ‘Boo Hoo Hoo’, the debut album from Vancouver based rock outfit No Sinner, was an enjoyable affair, it was an album that hinted at greater things to come. Therefore the arrival of album number two, ‘Old Habits Die Hard’, was one that I was eagerly awaiting. No Sinner vocalist, Colleen Rennison (her last name is No Sinner spelt backwards, but you spotted that right ?), filled the time in between by releasing an incredible solo album ‘See The Sky About To Rain’. Her cover of Tom Russell’s ‘Blue Wing’ is simply spellbinding, and I would urge anyone who enjoys some Americana to check it out. However, that ol’ devil called rock ‘n’ roll came calling once again to Rennison, and the end result is an album full of classic rock, soul, blues, and well… sex. This is a hot and sweaty album. Ms Rennison has swagger and a devilish twinkle in her eye to match the voice that spawned many, many Janis Joplin comparisons, but I also get a Robert Plant sex god/goddess vibe from her, and if she ever posts a pic of her holding a white dove then I will be confused. ‘Old Habits Die Hard’ is a much heavier album than the debut. The guitars are ramped up, and the solos sizzle, whereas the rhythm section is sublime and comes crashing out of the speakers onto your lap. It’s old school, but like Rival Sons or The Temperance Movement, it’s relevant and fresh. ‘All Woman’ is the smouldering opener to the album. It builds slowly, and has a funky strut to it, cinematic in some regards. I could see this playing over the opening credits of a reboot of Foxy Brown or a Tarantino movie. ‘Leadfoot’ is an early highlight. The intro echoes early Black Keys, before it settles on a groove with real swing. The drum sound crushes, and actually had me adjusting the cans to stave off total deafness for another week. ‘Old Habits Die Hard’ has many shades and textures. For instance, out and out barroom rockers, like the excellent ‘Saturday Night’, go toe to toe with some more mellow reflective moments, such as ‘Tryin”, or one of the other highlights on the album, ‘Hollow’. Not a ballad as such, but a beautiful, soulful tale of heartache, that has an emotional vocal performance from Rennison. The Joplin comparisons come in when she unleashes a scream or two, but during ‘Hollow’ and ‘Lines On The Highway’, the comparisons are perhaps more of one of the most respected female singers ever, Carole King. ’Get It Up’ drips with sex. A lusty and breathless foot tapper that will have you keeping time on the floor subconsciously, and therein lies the great appeal of the album. The mixture of styles is spot on, and the pacing ensures that the listener’s attention never wavers at all. No Sinner are equally at home barrelling through uptempo bangers like ‘One More Time’ as they are when they take their foot off the pedal on slower moments such as ‘Mandy Lyn’, which has a gritty, swampy feel to it.
This is a joyous album, which no doubt is the end result of countless miles through North America, hitting the dives night after night, corrupting the minds of anyone savvy enough to buy a ticket. Chances of it landing in many albums of the year polls? The bookies have stopped taking bets on that. ‘Old Habits Die Hard’ is out now through the Mascot Label Group Amazon | iTunes Review: Dave Stott
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