You’ve gotta love the grove and soul that southern rock bands give to their music. You can almost feel the sun beating down when this metal / blues / rock combination is done well. Western Sand haven’t let the fact that that south for them is Bournemouth, Dorset rather than the more glamorous Austin, Texas stop them from delivering a big slice of sunshine with this classy eponymous EP.
Tapping into the very roots of rock for its inspiration this four track stunner is less Down and more Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s easy to see why these Brit rockers were recently picked as support to the Thin Lizzy morphed Black Star Riders on their recent tour.
The toe tapping started within seconds of opener ‘A Place Called Home’ hitting my speakers. Some may call this easy listening rock, certainly there’s a by the numbers element to it but you can’t fake quality and these guys have plenty of it. For a start there’s that wonderful smoothness you get when a band plays tight but seem loose because they work together as a single unit. Key to this are the twin guitars of Tyler Haines and Jimmy Bradshaw which ebb and flow allowing each a turn in the spotlight rather than duelling in an egotistical fight. Haines also takes on the main vocal duties, his skill here is undoubtedly balancing conviction without trying too hard and sounding forced. His natural style comes across like a mature version of the late great Ronnie Van Zant – but without the Stetson.
This is a formidable debut to put out and if Western Sand can maintain this level of excellence moving on then they ought to have a bright future. Cutting edge they may not be, but when you just want to chill out with a beer or need the perfect soundtrack for a road trip these guys would make my playlist every time. Let’s hope a full album is just around the corner.