Like an M-80 in church, Vintage Trouble lands with a hiss and then blows apart what’s come to define modern soul, blues and rock. Taking pages from Lenny Kravitz, The Stones and The Black Crowes, The Bomb Shelter Sessions is the buzzing lash of Nalle Colt’s guitar, a brazen wail from Ty Taylor and the precision bashing of Richard Danielson’s drums backed up by a thick bass rumble from Rick Barrio Dill that drives the scrappy Angelenos with an fractious urgency.
Opening with a stark drum/yowl/electric guitar figure, it’s hard to tell where Sessions is heading. World-class journeymen bar banders? Or something more primal? “Blues Hand Me Down” strikes a claim for the mantle of the Exile-era Stones (sans Gram Parsons influence) and injects it with a modern-day fervor, tambourine shaking. We’re left breathless as the song gains momentum and shrugs off any vestige of the common place.
And so it is throughout.
Indeed, the scrappy four-piece finds no shame in working from the iconics; it’s their ability to thrust beyond expectation—both in terms of performance and lyrical flagrance, especially on the Sly & the Family Stone-esque “Total Strangers” —that makes this a band to watch.
With the tumbling melody line and guitar blasts of the syncopated fidelity pledge “Still & Always Will,” the low slung, well hung Faces slow strut “You Better Believe It” or the inside-out, neo-“Change Is Gonna Come” soul of “Run Outta You” that turns into a flat blues vamp in the end, Vintage Trouble wears rock textures like skin. Shrugged off, yet somehow blaring, this feels like what Terence Trent D’Arby’s tautly sensual rock cocktail should’ve evolved into.
Not that everything is so aggressive. “Nobody Told Me” is the essence of soul sweetness, equal parts Stevie Wonder/Smokey Robinson melodicism and a dose of Al Green’s sweeping ease. Deceptively, this is a witness to what it takes to get by, figuring life out for yourself and the knowledge we can make it.
From there, the action moves to a syncopated, slitherfest on “Jezebella,” an ode to the wrong kind of woman. Again, the dusty soul of Taylor’s voice is the contrast to the skuzzy tone of Colt’s guitar, equal parts Georgia Satellites burlesque-ery and Kravitz’s overt “come hither.”
Lust. Swagger. Bravado. Soul. Sweat. Grit. The bottomless cavern of flesh on flesh. This is the stuff the best soul’n’roll is made of, and it seems to be Vintage Trouble’s stock in trade.