The Cold Stares – Heavy Shoes: Album Review

Indiania duo, The Cold Stares, get very raw and very rootsy with a significant blast of unfiltered Blues Rock.

Release date: 13th August 2021

Label: Mascot Label Group

Format: digital / CD / LP (gold vinyl option…)

Staring out from the album cover like a bizarre Sgt Pepper caught up in a day of the dead parade, the Cold Stares duo deliver the results of their trip to Nashville’s famous Sam Phillips Recording Studio. Following a breathing space after a prolific three albums in three years period their new material is hinted at as being their heaviest to date.

While avoiding any temptation to avoid depressing references to current/recent events, the album winds around various avenues with the toxicity of relationships at its core – the relationships we have with ‘relationships,’ in the context of the intimate and personal to the broader world.

The title track has already set the scene, reminding us of the best of Rival Sons as the fuzzed up rough edges of a raw and unfiltered riff are accompanied by heavy hearts, bruised pride and the devastation of loss. “Heavy Shoes was the first song I had written for the album, and kind of a template we wanted to use for the rest of the record.  Heavy, bluesy, straight ahead and honest,” says Chris Tapp. It’s full of defiance as classic rock crosses swords with blues inflections, pumping out a soundtrack that wipes the floor with any contemporary attempts to recapture the spirit of 1970.

While 40 Dead Men might owe a touch to the machine gun fire of Communication Breakdown (sung by Phil Lynott) we’re loving In The Night Time that switches tack to a groovy retro vibe. Inspired by the Southern Gothic city of St Augustine, Florida, it’s one that’s saturated with a soulful and velvet bell bottomed smoothness and would see the likes of Jason King or Tony Curtis adjusting their cravats and cutting a rug in the hope of a successful night at their local underground club. Add the hint of keyboard texture deep in the background and it’s a real classic (and classy) piece.

Prosecution Blues and Election Blues do what they say on the tin with a nod to a pure blues yet with a thumping pulse as the riffs come thick and fast. What’s refreshing is the absence of indulgence, with just a rare excursion into soloing on Save You From You. No concession to lapsing into saccharine soaked commerciality. Rootsy, dirty and honest – the basis of the simple recipe.

Chris Tapps and Brian Mullins prove that two’s company with their no frills songwriting and their empathetic understanding. Proof too, that the cards that life deals you might be a duff hand but provides plenty fuel for the musical fire. Yes there are hard times where the omen of black cats, trouble in mind and the inability to sleep at night are all present and correct.

Here’s Hard Times from the album:

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