Thunder still recording killer studio albums, and the resurgence of Toby Jepson. Just two of the many UK rock music highlights in this soon-to-end decade.
Watching Jepson tread the boards as part of Dio’s Disciples hammered home the fact that the UK rock scene was worse off without him. He always was (and still is) a much sought after producer, but he belongs onstage, in a band, surrounded with his mates. Forming Wayward Sons as a band, rather than a solo project, debut album ‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’ was quickly released, and welcomed with open arms. The intense roadwork that followed brought Wayward Sons many accolades, including “Best New Band” at the Planet Rock Awards in 2018. But can lightning (in a bottle) strike twice? Of course it can, and it has on album number two from Wayward Sons.
‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’ is chock-full of tips-of-the-hat to some of the incredible musical talent that Britain as produced over the decades. Shades of both early Queen and The Beatles on ‘Little White Lies’, a Bowie-esque vibe on the magical ‘Fade Away’, even a touch of the Manics in amongst the fast, aggressive guitars on ‘(If Only) God Was Real’. This is an album, conceived, born and bred in Britain. You might even pick up a punk influence on the aforementioned ‘(If Only) God Was Real’ and ‘Punchline’, the bass rumble from Nic Wastell is pure JJ Burnel from The Stranglers.
Although through the combined work of Jepson and fellow guitarist Sam Wood, this is very much a guitar-led album, the contribution from Dave Kemp on keyboards is crucial. Leading from the front on ‘Joke’s On You’ and ‘Long Line Of Pretenders’, subtle on ‘Little White Lies’, he leaves his mark everywhere (as does the sublime Phil Martini behind the kit).
The towering ‘Us Against The World’ seemingly brings the album to a close, but don’t disappear just yet as after a minute or so of silence the band reappear on ‘Totally Screwed’. Everybody gets it from Jepson and company as they line them up one-by-one, before knocking them over in an anger-fuelled tirade against the fools seemingly “in charge” of the world today.
Wayward Sons have dispelled the “difficult second album” myth once and for all. And Toby Jepson must have discovered the elixir of life as he sounds as good today as he ever has, hitting those high notes with ease.
PS – Album cover of the year!
Available through Frontiers Music SRL on October 11th
Review – Dave