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Girls Guns and Glory

Love and protest – 2017 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Fred Frawley

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When, exactly, did rock and roll die? There are bands (for example, J. Roddy Walston and The Business, JJ Grey and Mofro, The Felice Brothers) fighting the good fight, but in large part the Three Chords and The Truth philosophy of popular music has been co-opted by country music, then poured into its own mold: trucks, hats, getting lit, girls and not giving a damn.

So, what's a band like Girls, Guns & Glory to do? Fundamentally, they are a roadhouse band. A bunch of guys that can take a tune and rock it. But rock is dead or at least subsumed by other genres. Musical tastes have become stratified and restricted to playlist bubbles and purportedly artificial intelligence measuring and regurgitating musical form along accepted patterns.

"Love and Protest" pushes back to uncertain effect. Good luck, as the singing is soulful and rich, and the songs are delivered with great feeling. It's basically a rock album with considerable "country" sensibilities as if to adapt to the existing musical landscape. To underscore this, GG&G begin with "Rock and Roll," a moderately-paced countrified three-chord progression. Thereafter, the unbleached roots of country-ish style continue to show.

"Hot Burrito #1 ,"a Gram Parsons tune from the halcyon days of the Laurel Canyon folk//rock milieu gets fine treatment. It's a fine song, and Girls, Guns & Glory reinvigorate it.

"Stare At The Darkness," which pops up toward the end is a quintessential rock song: there's a message, fearsome slide guitar work, even a "Hey!!" just before the ending slide salvo. It clocks in at a neat 3:27. Just the right length for the radio. You won't ever hear it unless you buy the CD or vinyl. In contrast, another Laurel Canyon chestnut, Jackson Browne's "Running On Empty" (which, to be honest, sounds a lot like "Stare") was released at the right place and time and is still a staple of broadcast music radio.

And, GG&G seem to possess awareness of their position.(e.g. "Man Who Wasn't There"). As if to admit the futility of its position, "Love and Protest" follows "Stare" with a country-slide ballad, "Empty Bottles" (see checklist above). "Bottles" is delivered with talent and accomplishment. The band (Ward Hayden - acoustic guitar, lead vocals, Josh Kiggans - drum kit, Paul Dilley - upright/electric bass) have been together for 10 years, and the cohesion of the unit delivers a strong, confident sound.

But the battle of the bubble playlist persists: Rolling Stone has heralded Girls, Guns and Glory as a "modern-day Buddy Holly plus Dwight Yoakam divided by The Mavericks." Sadly, that's about right.