It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Texas-based rockers South of Reality, comprised of John Walker (guitars, drums, backup vocals), Jeff McMullen (keys, drums, lead vocals), and Shane Wesberry (lead vocals). We had the pleasure of reviewing their 2018 release, album The Truth Behind The Lies, which we found to be “meaningful and engaging brand of rock music, stuffed with wildly interesting nuances from multiple genres and musical influences.“
This year, the three-piece is back with a brand new album and a renewed grip on what they’ve identified as their signature sound – a blend of ’80s metal and southern rock, which the band has dubbed progressive redneck. This new album, titled Lone Star State of Mind, is all but the perfect encapsulation of what it seems that moniker should entail, tied together by the theme of the band’s love of their home state.
“We have been searching for a sound, and we have found it.”
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
Kicking things off is Texas, My Texas, a true tribute to said state if there ever was one. Hard-hitting percussion, warmth and balance from the keys, and a couple of guitar solos that walk the line between country rock and hard rock to extreme success. The band’s pride for their home state comes through crystal clear in the lyrics:
“And those neon lights keep shining bright
While the moon takes over your mind
Like Charlie said, Texas will be just fine
Even if the sun don’t shine“
We lighten things up a bit with the acoustic leaning Needle In The Groove, giving off some The Black Crowes She Talks to Angels energy. It’s light, punchy, and rich – the layers of harmonies in the chorus see to that. And don’t sleep on the organ solo at 2:20.
Texas Women is the band’s furthest foray into the country side of their sound on this record, that little taste of slide guitar not going unnoticed in the intro. The twang in Wesberry’s voice is advertised quite a bit as the band takes us through a few late-night southern romance scenes. It’s swampy, sultry rock at its finest.
Closing out the record is another standout track, Sweet Spirit. Synth heavy and with a rolling rhythm, this is certainly walking on the prog-rock side of things. There’s an unexpectedly beautiful blend of harmonies at the end of the chorus that gives things a bit of an ethereal feel, and the synth solo seconds that notion. It’s the most unique track on the album, and it goes to show that just because you’ve honed in on your signature sound as a band, it doesn’t mean you can’t successfully step a little outside of that box at any time.
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
Best Years Gone brings a bit of a soulful, bluesy element to the record. It’s perhaps a bit reminiscent of Bad Company’s Ready For Love with a little more edge (especially in the chorus). There are a lot of great lyrical moments across this album, but this track in particular is a very strong showing:
“I’m not one for splitting hairs
You were the queen,
I was the pawn.
When you’re young nobody cares
The years fly by, and then they’re gone“
And they’re only elevated by McMullen’s vocals on this track, which have just the right balance of rasp, power, and emotion. Tie it together with a catchy guitar riff in the hook, and this is maybe the best southern-rock-tinged ’80s power ballad out there.
These guys know what they’re about. The brand of progressive-alt-country-rock being created by South of Reality is wholly unique and undeniably identifiable, and it’s no question that Lone Star State of Mind is a doubling-down on the band’s commitment to that sound. We’re inclined to agree with that decision – this is an energetic, gritty blend of a range of styles that this group is bringing together with cohesion and confidence. Fans on almost any end of the spectrum of rock music will find something that resonates with them on this album, because at its core, this is rock music that is well-written, well-produced, and well-performed – and you can’t ask for much more than that.
BELOW: Listen to Lone Star State of Mind and connect with their website and social media platforms. Please support South of Reality by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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