Friday, 8 August 2014

Soledad Brothers: Steal Your Soul and Dare Your Spirit to Move Review

Tired of always seeing Gary Moore, and Joe Bonamassa, taking the spotlight for blues rock? Well, come this way then, and step back to 2002 for a garage blues offering from the Detroit trio, The Soledad Brothers - Written By Daniel Sharman.

Released in: 2002
Genre: Electric Blues/Garage Blues
Record Label: Estrus Records
Medium: Blue vinyl, black vinyl, CD, digital download
Recorded at: 3rd Man studios, Ghetto Recorders, and The Covington Lodge

Recorded only a couple of years after the turn of the century, looking back on this particular record, it feels much older than that. This is thanks in part to its authentic, lo-fi recording style, which helps accentuate the genuine, bare emotion of the album. 

Unlike on their début LP, for their second musical outing the Soledad Brothers employ a third member to their originally two-piece line up, Oliver Henry. Henry provides some much needed texture, which at times felt lacking on the Soledad Brothers début, bringing in greasy saxophone, church organ and backing rhythm guitar on many of Steal Your Soul's tracks. This new set of accompaniments helps add flavour to the album, and make for an all the more dynamic, compelling listen. 

However, do not be mistaken, Johnny Walker still remains as the enigmatic preacher of the group, exercising gritty guitar riffage, and reverberated slide action, from his various hollow-body guitars, whilst also delivery Burnside-esque vocals, and raw harmonica action. Similarly, Ben Swank remains to deliver the same, heavy-handed action on the percussion section of the LP, as before. His beefy, heavy beats, helping give structure to the recordings, and firmly anchoring Henry's saxophone lines in place.

All these elements come together to evoke the same sense of magic that so many British, and American, blues rock acts managed to conjure in the past. The Soledad Brothers make no effort to hide these influences, and quite clearly wear them on their sleeve. For example, 'Prodigal Stone Blues' remorselessly borrows both Mick Jagger's vocal style, and Keith Richards' guitar technique and tone, to seemingly pick up from where the Rolling Stones left them in 'Exile on Main Street'. 

Additionally, tracks such as Break 'Em on Down, and Michigan Line, portray the same overdriven prowess of so many hill country blues records, from artists such as R.L Burnside. Even though the two songs aren't direct covers of such artists, they are still credited by the band due to the fact the influence clearly shows. 

Now, reading all of what has just been said, it may seem like I do not favour this LP much, however the answer altogether the opposite of that. In fact, this is a blues record that succeeds in so many ways. Yes, it is derivative, but that is not the point of a good blues record. A good blues record seeks to borrow from the styles of it's contemporaries, and craft a new recording by adding its own signature twist. 

Furthermore, Steal Your Soul, and Dare Your Spirit to Move is obviously a delicately crafted record, even if the songs don't always aim to convey that. The recording is sharp, the sound rehearsed, and the mixture of songs successful due to their varied pace (having slower tracks like 'Nation's Bell', and 'Miracle Birth', implemented throughout, so as to contrast with high-tempo tracks like 'Prince Among Thieves').

Critic's Summary: Altogether, Steal Your Soul is a very wholesome listen, and leaves the listener's appetite for raw, blues rock thoroughly quenched. Not too full on, not too laid back, the LP is a shining moment in the career's of the Soledad Brothers, giving listeners a full range of tastes from their rootsy palette. 

Written By Daniel Sharman.


  1. An amazing example of Detroit/Toledo at the pinnacle of the garage rock craze of the early aughts. I must have heard this album a thousand times. I was still living up in St. Clair County (60 miles north of Detroit) when I heard this album and I recall the part in ".32 Blues" when Johnny Walker calls out to the kids in the Cass Corridor only to find myself drunk in that neighborhood's bars and alleys just a few years later. However, I couldn't pick if this album or the first, self-titled release of the Soledad Brother's is better, and hopefully I won't ever need to as that would be a really dumb thing to be required of me...

    1. Cheers again, my friend! I'm very glad to hear there is another fan of this record as well as I, haha. I may review their début too if I get the time, too. BTW, thank you so much for elucidating the line in .32 Blues...never understood it until now!

    2. Yeah, I guess those words would seem the nonsense without context... He also refers "the pope of Delrey," with Delrey being another neighborhood in Detroit. A polluted and very poor one, but hanging in there.

    3. Being a Native-Englishman, I never worked that line out either. Interesting stuff, nonetheless. I would love to pick Walker's brain about the lines of Prince Among Thieves, too.