Thirteen Stars – Finest Ramshackle Jam

Thirteen Stars – Finest Ramshackle Jam
RPM Music
Release Date: 19/06/2020
Running Time: 55:12
Review by Beth Jones
9.5/10

When you think of Southern Rock and Blues, you probably picture a beat up back porch in the dusty southern states of America in the warmth of the evening sun, upon which there sits a craggy gentleman, supping a Southern Comfort or a nice bourbon, whilst singing about life and strumming a guitar. Or driving across an orange dessert in an open top Cadillac on the way to Woodstock, the sun beating down and the dust sticking hard to your brill-creamed handlebar tash, swigging from a bottle of moonshine and toking on a Marlboro.  And you would be forgiven for thinking that the members of Thirteen Stars had all indeed been living that life in order to create the Southern Rock sound that we all know and love. But you’d be wrong. They are, in fact, from the West Coast… of Cumbria, UK. Being a dweller of the UK myself, I can confirm that Cumbria is neither dusty, nor sunny for a good 95% of the year, so getting that Southern sound the way Thirteen Stars do is pretty impressive!

Their latest release, and fifth studio album, “Finest Ramshackle Jam”, is due to drop in mid-June 2020. The album was recorded at Doncaster’s Axis Studios, which has played host to a variety of names, including Terrorvision, Massive Wagons, and Black Spiders, and engineered and produced by Matt Elliss, with co-production by Thirteen Stars’ frontman, Hoss Thompson. The album was mastered by Geoff Pesche (Page & Plant, Therapy, The Divine Comedy) at Abbey Road Studios no less (if you don’t know the significance of that place, are you even a music fan?)!

The album as a whole has been inspired by, and pays homage to many sub-genres of Rock and musical icons from ages past, with nods to Rockabilly and classic Rock ‘n’ Roll, and hints of greats such as Queen, Tom Petty, and Elvis Presley, amongst others. The use of instantly recognisable instruments – Hammond organ, a brass section, and Bass Clav – provide a classic 50s, 60s and 70s feel, but it’s in no way ‘dated’. The sweeping backing vocal harmonies and guitar harmonies throughout, the fuzzed-out guitar solos, and the extremely good, multi-layered mixing, give “Finest Ramshackle Jam” a very ‘full’ feel, which is really pleasing to listen to. I particularly like the use of panning on many of the songs, which creates a brilliant sense of depth, and almost makes it feel like you are watching a live show (remember them?… they were fun… ☹).

The album starts at apace, with ‘I’m Ready’, a track that frontman Hoss Thompson describes as a composition in which the idea of music is personified, and is asking ‘are you ready to dedicate your life to me, whatever hardship that may bring?’ to which the answer, for these guys, is ‘yes’!

There is a good variety of pace and feeling across the record, with upbeat tracks like ‘Be There In The Morning’ (which to me has quite a Buddy Holly feel about it), and ‘Mint Jelly’, proper full on groove in tracks like ‘Break It Down Slowly’, and even a little walk into Motown in ‘Rebel’. The whole 55 minutes of this album is crammed full of excellent musicianship from all members – one of my favourite moments being the mighty guitar work in the final track, ‘Only A Soldier’. It’s like a big hug in its richness and has plenty of wah!

I simply can’t pick a favourite track off this album, as they are all so different from each other, and explore the full depths of genres around their sound. In the press release front man, Hoss, said that this album was a reaction to their previous album, “The White Raven”, which, although liked it, they “felt that it lacked some variety, and we wanted to create a more esoteric album. One that encapsulated all the different inspirations we have and that shows the variety of songwriting that we create.” Well, congratulations guys, as you have done just that in this album. It’s not ground-breaking, but it doesn’t need to be. Its beauty is in the bands understanding of the musical roots which they emulate. These guys are really solid players in their field, and deserve much acclaim for their work, and this damn fine album. If you like Southern Rock, in any form, you’re going to love this album.

TRACKLISTING:
01. I’m Ready
02. Running So Long
03. Sweet Lies
04. Give It Good
05. Sleeping
06. Sorcery
07. Be There In The Morning
08. I’d Do Anything
09. Mint Jelly
10. Rebel
11. Steel Horse
12. Keep Calm and Carry On
13. Razor’s Edge
14. Break It Down Slowly
15. Only A Soldier

LINE-UP:
Hoss Thompson – Vocals/Guitar
Jax Sedgwick – Guitar
Mike Reid – Bass
Andy Bates – Drums

LINKS:
www.thirteenstarsuk.com/
www.facebook.com/ThirteenStars
www.twitter.com/13_Stars1
www.instagram.com/13_starsuk
www.youtube.com/channel/UCt3pEsMdP6CYVtwbLKBx0xw

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

One thought on “Thirteen Stars – Finest Ramshackle Jam”

  1. Can you email me a digital copy please Beth…I can’t wait until 19th June 😪🤣

    Great review !

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