Strong debut from proud Heartland Rock standard bearer John Rowdy.
Release Date: 29th September 2020
Label: Rose River Records
Formats: CD, Vinyl (both including download)
From Kingman, Kansas, John Rowdy is an emerging talent who proudly waves the standard of Heartland Rock, the straight-ahead, roots-based genre typified by Tom Petty, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger. Indeed, John is himself at pains acknowledge his particular debts to Tom Petty and Lynyrd Skynyrd for their influences that pervade his writing and performance styles which ooze from every pore of this collection.
There are a lot of positives to take from this album. The band is solid and tight and the sound is gritty, dirty and accomplished. John is backed by The Ruffians – Colton Gartleman, Sean Story and Randy Gaulding. On this evidence, they’re a name to watch out for, particularly guitarist Gartleman who contributes some stunning riffing and soloing to just about every track and whose stamp on the finished article is equally vivid to that of John Rowdy himself.
The album starts with the title track, which gives the listener a pretty good impression of what to expect. Like several of the album’s tracks (notably Coming Home and album closer Just Be Who You Are) Lynyrd Skynyrd are lurking in the riffs and refrains and Colton’s guitar solo is immediately striking.
I was particularly struck by the closing sequence of Coming Home, Addicted, Your Love and Just Be Who You Are, a set of songs that are up there with the very best. Coming Home is beautifully structured, the vocal is probably John’s best performance on the album and the guitar solos slot in perfectly.
Addicted’s heavy riffing is simple but highly effective and delivers a sound that recalls classic Kinks, or even The Ramones, and there’s yet another one of Colton’s storming solos to enjoy. Your Love has the subject matter and structure of an early Free number and the guitar and vocal interaction help to verify that comparison and Just Be Who You Are is a superb anthemic closer to an album that provides a wonderful demonstration of what these guys are capable of.
John Rowdy is probably a new name to many At The Barrier followers but, on the strength of this album, he isn’t likely to remain so.
Listen to Beautiful Resilience, the title track to this album here: