It’s always pleasing when an album proves to be a genuine surprise, especially when it is from the vocalist of a band that passed you by, in this case, Sully Erna from Godsmack. Coming six years after his previous solo album ‘Avalon’, ‘Hometown Life’ is as far removed from Godsmack as you can imagine. Deeply personal and hugely eclectic, it’s the sound of an artist taking risks and putting himself out there stripped to the bone. Without a band (and a stack of Marshalls) to hide behind, the buck stops squarely with Sully Erna. ‘Hometown Life’ is an album of many tastes and flavours. From the piano driven opening title track through the percussion heavy ‘Your Own Drum’ before ending on the stark, acoustic ‘Falling To Black’, it’s a smorgasbord of styles. Can a piano be heavy? Bet your arse it can. The furious hammering of the keys on the title track proves that. The arrangements behind the piano are Godzilla sized, but at no point drown out Erna’s impassioned vocals. Erna instantly changes it up by heading to warmer waters on ‘Your Own Drum’, a tale that offers up hope for the future… and you gotta love the bongos, man! The piano is thrust back into the spotlight on ‘Take All Of Me’ and ‘Blue Skies’, but it’s softer than on the title track. The opening line of Aerosmith’s ‘No More No More’ sprung to mind on the title track… ”Blood stains the ivories of my daddy’s baby grand”.
The acoustic moments on ‘Hometown Life’ stand out. ‘Don’t Comfort Me’ is especially powerful, and the electric guitar solo mid song is a real highlight, as is the Zeppelin-esque vibe of ‘Forever My Infinity’. Soft, with a guitar sound that borders on ‘The Battle Of Evermore’, it features a stunning string arrangement and lush female backing vocals. The bongos return on ‘Father Of Time’, which has a warm, floating vibe and mystical string arrangements. The hand claps are very effective, but it’s the percussion that steals the show. Damn, they are infectious! Special mention needs to go to ‘Turn It Up!’, which features Erna’s 71-year-old father Salvatore on the trumpet. It’s a toe-tapping, finger-snapping bluesy romp of a song that features an exhilarating lead guitar solo and, in a nutshell – it swings!
The physical version ‘Hometown Life’ is available now. More information can be found here.
Review: Dave Stott