REVIEW: The Wreckless Strangers — When the Sun and a Blue Star Collide (LP)
Whether you’re in the mood for a murky, brooding guitar bed draped over a soggy keyboard arrangement, or feeling the rhythm of a bluesy jam-band groove instead, the Wreckless Strangers crank up the party feels in their moving 14-song album When the Sun and a Blue Star Collide. With four songs already released (“Alexa”, “Aint No Thing”, “You Just Hurt” and the current single, “Sun State”), the Bay City, California soul rockers are on point with the additional songs in this very cool canon.
The Wreckless Strangers have a hybrid sound of blues, Americana, folk and soul — a bit of an offshoot of The Grateful Dead. Of the aforementioned releases, “You Just Hurt” is my favorite. I loved the spaghetti-string western guitar work at the beginning that unleashes into a tougher, rocking shape. When your guard is down, and you’re lost for luck, a male voice sings. I felt like this song had moments where it was about lockdowns and the whole six-feet away social distancing. They were sly about it.
One thing I like most about these songs — especially in “My Art” and “It Is What It Is” is the vulnerability. True, on the surface there’s a feeling of folly and letting it go. The melodies matter more than the words. That is just the first inclination. Once you start peeling back the layers, you start to put together the puzzle pieces that this band makes a statement much more than they are letting the casual listener in-on. In “My Art” I felt like there was a proverbial middle-finger to society that is telling them what to do, and more audaciously, what to expect if they are only going to be doing art for a living.
The middle core of When the Sun and a Blue Star Collide, is a powerful force. Just as if two stars would actually collide, I think the Wreckless Strangers map out their own pathway that is filled with crazy fun, trippy rock and roll songs and twangy western swing guitars. Songs like “Can’t Recall” and “Stranglehold” leave the door open to keep coming back to visit, just the same as it does for “Raw Deal” and “Mountain Song”. It’s a great selection of pick me up and even reflection type of songs. I think they all allude themselves, too, to communal experiences. These are songs for live settings.
By the time you roll into the swanky, bluesy “What’s Your Price” and the electric, heavy backbeat of “State Of Grace”, the Wreckless Strangers just might have cranked up the temperature. With just one song left in the tank, “Let You Go” ends the album on a smooth ride into the sunset.
The Wreckless Strangers are Amber Morris (vocals), David Noble (lead guitar, vocals), Joshua Zucker (bass), Austin de Lone (keys), Mick Hellman (drums, vocals) and Robert Anderson (guitar). When the Sun and a Blue Star Collide is produced by Colin Linden. John Whynot and Sean Beresford served as engineers. Additional horns in select tracks were arranged by Jim Hoke.