Stand True

The Americans

OK Loose Music, 2022

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


The Americans have a vibe, that’s for sure: echoey, late-night-at-the-bar, live-in-one-take, classicist Americana with a strong melancholy streak. Think Roy Orbison circa 1961 and you’re in the neighborhood—which makes them a walking anachronism in today’s slicked-up, endlessly tweaked-and-Autotuned world.

The vintage sound remains the essence of this group, but on their sophomore full-length Stand True the LA quartet pushes the envelope a bit more, experimenting with variations on their tried and true early-rock two-guitars-bass-and-drums template. The opening title track is somewhat of a walking contradiction, a song of devotion that’s experimental enough to suggest progressive Americana; the fascinating bit is how they invert expectations, powering through the verses only to downshift at the choruses, lending the latter a rather stately feel.

It’s a creative effect, enhanced by lead singer Patrick Ferris’s rockabilly-influenced vibrato and the sharp playing of the entire group—Ferris (vocals, guitar), Zac Sokolow (guitars, organ), Jake Faulkner (bass), and Tim Carr (drums, keys)— which thoroughly inhabits these dusty, sepia-toned songs. (My guess is that Ferris and Sokolow are fans of Explosions In The Sky and/or my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Friday Night Lights, as there’s a lot of that reverb-heavy, shimmery guitar work.)

“Born With A Broken Heart” is a strong number, smoldering along and executing another interesting acceleration / deceleration with especially nice work from the rhythm section. “Give Way” is where a more modern influence creeps in, with a touch of Gaslight Anthem in the big-boned chorus, even as the vocals maintain that 1961 vibe. The blues make an appearance with “The Day I Let You Down,” at least on the verses, and then “Farewell” advances the clock to 1965-ish Bob Dylan, complete with wheezy organ.

Halfway through, “Guest Of Honor” shifts gears and tone with fast-paced acoustic number before the boys ease into “Romeo,” a dusty rambler featuring little flares of guitar, developing by the third minute into a punchy rocker. “Sore Bones” is the first time the band breaks fully out of their standard template, matching fat, feedback-y guitar with modern, clattery electronic percussion before it bleeds into live drums; it’s a different feel and a heavier sound that works here.

“What Would I Do” is more traditional, an airy, bluesy ballad with lilting chords that nicely sets up “Orion,” a hard-charging rocker that’s among the album’s highlights. Finally, closer “Here With You” delivers a slow, keening blues that captures that smoky barroom end-of-the-evening feel to a t.

Lyrically, Stand True offers a three-course meal of brooding melancholy that rivals Chris Isaak or Orbison, both clearly influences. If that fits your mood, this album has much to offer in its sorrowful grooves and anguished choruses. Personally, I was more intrigued by the tracks where The Americans stretch the mold a bit. They’ve succeeded in capturing that vintage rock sound beautifully—now the question is, can they continue to evolve it? I’ll be listening.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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