The math on the new Derailers is complex - start with a four-piece band, subtract one front man and divide his duties between the other lead and the new producer, then add two new musicians and a new label. Fortunately for fans, it all adds up to a solid return to form.
Casting off the slick sounds of their recent major label efforts, this returns to the '50s and '60s for influences from rock and roll, rockabilly, jive and Bakersfield. Newcomer Chris Schlotzhauer's pedal steel maintains the country sound, while the improbably named Sweet Basil McJagger brings rockabilly piano to the mix.
Producer Buzz Cason picked up some songwriting duties from the departed Tony Villanueva, including the title track, a '60s song that was once covered by the Beatles. Brian Hofeldt took on all of the lead vocals and shares writing credits on most of the tracks. While the up tempo numbers have always been Hofeldt's strength, he delivers admirably on the ballads that punctuate the album.
Like all Derailers albums, it pales in comparison to their colorful live shows, but Soldiers of Love at least makes a plausible attempt at recreating them.