Stubborn Son

Independent release, 2015

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


What was new in 1966, isn’t new anymore.

That statement might seem as obvious as the sun, but it’s hard to avoid going there when your subject is a blues-rock trio that positions itself musically as a direct descendent of Cream and Led Zeppelin and Stevie Ray Vaughan. What was once fresh and startling—blues numbers amped up with bruising, aggressive electric guitar—is now oh so familiar.

What that means is, if you’re going to go there, you’d best be good, not to mention a hundred percent committed. Fortunately, Stubborn Son—Garrett Lamp on guitar and lead vocals, Andrew Knapp on bass and vocals, and Blair Daly on drums and vocals—have both the talent and the commitment.

“The Broken Heart Proof” bursts out of the gate with a shotgun riff that suggests the ghost of SRV was in the room when it was composed. That headlong hard-blues drive propels the song all the way through, punctuated by a nice breakdown and reprise near the close.

Stubborn Son, like their many predecessors, get a big sound out of a trio by cranking up the guitar and keeping the overall sound raw and electric in the vein of Jack White or early Black Keys. Birthright was recorded on “a beautiful vintage analogue console” and it has that warm, echoey, classic sound.

That initial feel extends through “Make Believe” and “Catch Me Runnin’,” chunky slices of ’70s-influenced blues-rock, before the boys take a small detour as “Thick As Blood” brings in slide guitar for a ride down into the swamps. By the time you get to “Vixen” and “Voices,” a gospel-blues influence surfaces in the lyrics, which call out the devil and make it clear there’s a contest underway between good and evil. “Voices” in particular has a menacing feel, a slow grinder of a number with a big, atmospheric solo.

The equally dark “All Saints” extends the religious imagery against a lurching, playful rhythm, before Knapp takes the lead vocal for “Fall For This,” which initially has more of a soul feel to it, before gaining muscle on the choruses. It’s a nice change of pace that sets up closer “Make Your Heart Stop,” a smoldering number that cements the impression of Stubborn Son as a band that means it.

And that’s really what it comes down to when you’re treading familiar ground in a genre that’s all about passion and feel. You can’t hold back or strike a pose, and these guys don’t. Stubborn Son play like they mean it, and that makes all the difference. Birthright is a powerhouse debut from this Seattle trio, an album rippling with blues-rock energy and total commitment.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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