Another day another cracking band from Canada to get the ears standing to attention. No Sinner and Monster Truck can be regularly found on the decks at DGM Towers and now we have Montreal’s The Damn Truth. ‘Devilish Folk’ is their second full length album, and helps build on the buzz created by vocalist Lee-La Baum covering U2’s ‘Love Is Blindness’ on an advert for Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Mon Paris’ perfume. 1.5 million hits and counting on YouTube, with most asking “Who is that incredible singer?”. Baum has a powerful voice that has drawn comparisons to Janis Joplin, but as Elin Larsson from Blues Pills found out, this seems to be the default setting to describe female vocalists that go down the “retro” path. Kind of like the Robert Plant comparisons that plague Jay Buchanan from Rival Sons. Regardless of who you think Baum sounds like, one thing that we can all agree on is that she possesses an almighty voice… oh, and the band can also play a bit as well. The drum sound, the guitar tone, the overall feel – all scream a Zeppelin/Cream vibe. Bloody massive sound!
‘Love Is Blindness’ doesn’t feature on the album, but I would implore you to check it out online, an incredible few minutes that sets the neck hairs ablaze. What is on the album though is twelve tracks of tight, emotional rock and roll that will have you checking if this really is only The Damn Truth’s second album. Take ‘Pirates & Politicians’ for instance. It might begin with a healthy lashing of Black Keys fuzz, but then it settles down into a groove that totally swings. The handclaps behind the guitar solo are so infectious. Lyrically, it has it’s roots in the 70’s, but sadly, they are all too relevant today…”They used to put flowers in gun barrels. I tried that once and got my face maced”. Take that Ms Jenner and Pepsi. ‘Plastic Flowers’ is all about the luscious guitar sound from Tom Shemer, which is magical, whereas ‘Wouldn’t Be Lying’ belongs to drummer Dave Traina, who batters the living daylights out of his kit. I love the way the song fades out with stripped back vocals from Baum that make you feel like you are right there in the studio.
‘Broken Blues’ is smouldering with a hypnotic drum beat and some righteous guitar work that swirls around the listener’s head. Baum unleashes a staggering vocal performance that blows away all the competition. Are The Damn Truth Canada’s best kept secret? Judging by the hits on YouTube, not for much longer. The softer, acoustically driven ‘Alex’ is the standout track on ‘Devilish Folk’. Deeply personal lyrics from Baum convey a tragic and heartbreaking tale of friendship. Epic in every sense of the word, it truly is a special song. ‘The Match’ is another highlight, melancholic, but with a massive chorus that soars before returning back to the darkness. Again, the lyrics are raw and emotive, and again, the playing is top notch. Want something a bit more trad blues rock? Check out ‘Heart Is Cold’ and ‘Hangin On’, two fine slabs of guitar driven rock that beg to be played at full blast. The title track rounds off ‘Devilish Folk’, and had ‘Alex’ not been so powerful, this would have easily won the standout track award. Seven minutes in length, it’s a sublime mix of haunting, dreamy vocals, blistering guitar solos, and precise rhythms. The guitar solo that ends the track is nothing short of jaw-dropping, and once the song faded out, there was only one thing left to do… hit repeat.
The prophets of doom like to remind us that rock is supposedly dead, but acts like The Damn Truth are playing their own small part in proving that wrong. ‘Devilish Folk’ is available now.
Review: Dave Stott
Check out The Damned Truth: Website.