The Commoners – Find Another Way
Gypsy Soul Records
The Commoners are a Canadian band built on the sounds of the Allman Brothers and the rock sounds that emanated from America’s South. This inaugural release features nine original songs delivered with the power of the contents of a charred oak whiskey barrel. These guys deliver a powerful sound that pays homage to their musical idols. They state, “The Black Crowes are a big influence for us. Derek Trucks, Marcus King, and the Allman Brothers, of course. These are the bands that we aspire to wear on our sleeves as we create our own music.” This is quite evident.
The Commoners are the quartet of Chris Medhurst on vocals and rhythm guitar, Ross Hayes Citrullo on lead guitar, Ben Spiller on bass, vocals and also on piano for two tracks, and Adam Cannon on drums, percussion and vocals. Joining them are Miles Evans-Branagh on organ and piano for two tracks, Jeff Heisholt on organ for one cut, Michael Ekhart on pedal steel guitar for two tracks, Ben Healey on lead guitar on one song, and the trio of Chantal Williams, Shezzelle Weekes and Tash Lorayne on backing vocals.
The title track gets things rolling. It’s a rootsy, Southern Rick infused cut with a throbbing beat, a heavy dose of cool organ and impassioned vocals, “Fill My Cup” is next, a rocking cut that begins as a ballad and builds into a full scale assault in a slide guitar, Marshal Tucker-esque style. Things continue in the roots rocker “More Than Mistakes.” The bass drum sets the beat as the band gets into the heaviest of grooves. It ain’t blues, but there are riffs of many a Southern Rock band infused here.
“Too Much” continues the assault. Another out ad out rocker with some in your face guitar and another big beat. They take the pedal off the gas with “Naturally,” a sweet sort of ballad that builds a bit mid way through and then goes out in a blaze of glory. “I Won’t” follows with some pedal steel guitar and a somber, soft start that once again builds into something bigger. The guitar and organ help build the emotions here.
“Deadlines” is another cut that has a softer side that transitions back and forth into powerful Southern Rock. “Hangin’ On Again” opens with an Allman Brothers ethereal slide guitar intro and we have interludes of buildup to powerful stuff and backing back down only to build again into some heavy stuff. Lots of nice slide work here throughout the piece. The pedal steel returns in “Alive.” The song begins with softer vocals and acoustic guitar. The pedal steel and organ come in to back things up and there is a slick instrumental interlude of the pedal steel guitar and the rest of the band making some cool music as the vocal lead increases in emotion to take us home.
This is a powerhouse album. It’s advertised as “roots rock” which I would more likely label as Southern Rock, but what’s in a name? What is also evident is that this really isn’t a blues album at all. It is some pretty darn good rock music, though. These guys sure can play and sing!
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