October 11th 2019 see’s Wayward Sons release their much anticipated 2nd album, “The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be” on Frontiers Music. This album, the follow up to their much lauded debut album “Ghosts of Yet To Come” will be available on CD, Vinyl and in a digital format.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCMGJzfq7sY?start=7&w=560&h=315] That 2017 debut album was a stunning album in it’s own right and threw the band right into the limelight from day one. Not just because their founder member was Toby Jepson of Little Angels fame but because the band set the rock world alight with a string of blistering live shows before the album was released that ignited massive interest in them. The band, which was handpicked by Toby have worked with a whole host of famed acts themselves and bring an undoubted all round quality to the line up which is so evident on this release.
For those that are new to Wayward Sons, the full line up is Toby Jepson (Little Angels, Fastway, Gun), guitarist Sam Wood (Treason Kings), bassist Nic Wastell (Chrome Molly), drummer Phil Martini (Spear of Destiny, Quireboys, Joe Elliot’s Down and Outz) and Dave Kemp (Little Angels). Those two and a bit years since they formed have seen them gel as a unit after a relentless touring schedule that has seen them support Saxon, Inglorious, Steel Panther, Living Color, Tesla and UFO, entertain festival crowds at Download, Ramblin Man, Stone Deaf and Hard Rock Hell plus a whole host of their own dates as headliners.
In July of this year, the band started the build up to this album by releasing to the world, the video to “Joke’s On You” which was the first of four video tracks that the band have filmed that trace the narrative of the album. Those four video’s will stand alone but also be able to run together as a whole.
The album itself could be called a concept record, as there is a thread that connects the twelve tracks but singer/guitarist and songwriter Toby Jepson, prefers to call it a ‘protest’ record and describes the new material as ‘political’ but not the sort that seeks to hammer the message home, more of a reflection on his take on where the world and we are.
So what of the album. Historically, many bands have found great difficulty with their second albums and I wondered if Wayward Sons would have those same issues when I first received it. I needn’t have had any concerns though as this is one of the finest slabs of guitar driven hard rock that I have heard this year.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to play it and play it whilst preparing to review it and each time I have heard it, there has been something new that has hit me. One of the first things that struck me was the feeling that this was a real band effort. After all those shows and time spent together, a band comfortable with each other, a band growing equally with each other and a band that have all had their input into the writing and recording process.
Those band members have all brought their own influences to the table which is so evident and between them they have created an album of epic proportions. Yes it really is that good.
After all those listens, I have not got bored with it, in fact the complete opposite, the more I hear it, the more I want to listen to it. It feels like a new best friend, something I want to spend as much time with as I can, to really get to know as well as I possibly can.
If I could take it down the pub, buy it a beer and introduce it to my other mates I would. The quality of the song writing is exceptional but then in my opinion Toby Jepson is one of the best songwriters of his generation. Each and every song is different yet they all compliment each other superbly and the album flows sublimely between tempo’s to create a heavenly listening pleasure and take you on a ride that you just don’t want to stop.
Opening track “Any Other Way” starts off with a chugging guitar riff before that familiar voice comes in over it, The drums then build the intensity of the track even more before the full band kick in and you get the full Sons assault.
That chugging riff is there throughout the track, which has a really infectious beat to it and is full of those wonderful melodic overtones and some really special harmonious vocal parts.
“As Black As Sin”, the shortest song on the album, has a mesmerising, swirling guitar riff and a truly sumptuous electrifying solo that make this punchy little rocker really stand out, This is followed by “Joke’s On You” which kicks in with a prominent keyboard intro that in some way reminds me of 70’s era E-Street Band, The track has been part of their live set this year and having been available to listen to since July should give some familiarity to the proceedings.
The quality of Toby’s vocals really stand out here and I think he sounds as good as he has ever done. The track has yet another electrifying solo and the build up to the finish is quite exquisite.
Three tracks in and what is evident is that all the songs are distinctly different to each other yet all clearly fall into what Wayward Sons are about. Track four, “Little White Lies” has a real slow burning, almost smouldering start to it before developing into a luscious mid-tempo rocker with some heavy Queen influences in the guitar work. In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that Brian May himself had played the guitar parts, they are that good.
“Feel Good Hit” has one of those to die for choruses that just gets you singing along at will. Kicking in with a majestic staccato guitar part it turns into a really powerful track and sees Toby really let rip with his vocal parts, It is a compelling number full of harmonies with the guitars and rhythm section driving the song throughout and leads us nicely into “Fade Away”, which is just a gargantuan piece of music.
The first minute of this song, with Dave’s keyboard / piano parts so prominent really grabs your attention and your heart. It is poetic balladry at it’s finest and the way the track then builds over the next minute or so is just spellbinding, It is a monstrous song that makes you think of so many of the great 70’s icons in the way it is written and then to top it all off you get yet another Queen inspired guitar solo and guitar sound that sent me into dreamland, For me, “Fade Away” is the icing on the cake to a stunningly great album.
It shows the versatility in the band, both in their playing and songwriting and if we were still in a world where rock bands got decent radio play on the mainstream stations it would open them up to a whole new fanbase much like Wanted Dead or Alive did for Bon Jovi or November Rain did for Guns N Roses. In fact, this song is easily as good as both of those and deserves to be talked about alongside them.
“Have It Your Own Way” takes the temp right back up again, a fast paced rocker with a punchy intro and riff throughout and then there is “Long Line of Pretenders” next. Another track with Mr Kemps keyboards very prominent and yet another different guitar sound. To my ear this has a real Little Angels vibe to it and like all their tracks just gets your feet and fingers tapping along. “(If Only) God Was Real” is a real in your face rocker. Intense, electrifying and a track that needs to be played LOUD! The power in the rhythm section of Phil and Nick is right there and the onslaught of guitars from Toby and Sam is just monumental.
Title track “The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be” is a divine plodding rocker with a mesmerising beat to it. Built around a killer riff with some glorious time changes and lyrically just out of this world. It starts drawing us to the end of the album but not before the band take the tempo right back up again with “Punchline”, a fast, fast, fast paced song that is aggressive, yet harmonious and melodic. It has time changes, another rip roaring guitar solo and a sudden finish that catches you off guard.
This is Wayward Sons rocking at their best!
Bringing this album to a close is “Us Against The World”. Like many of the tracks on the album you can hear the influences they have pulled from yesteryear, whether it be Queen, Bowie, Elvis Costello or any of those other greats. Some bands would just love to write one song of this quality but Toby and his band of Wayward Sons have written a whole album of them. Each track is equally different but equally appealing. Just compare this last track to it’s predecessor and you will know what I mean.
Just when you think that is it, the album runs silently on and you get a gem of a hidden track called “Totally Screwed”. Whatever you do don’t miss this as it has a real jump up and down beat to it. It is an angry sing-a-long party number full of angst fuelled lyrics with an sort of punk influenced chant at the end that brings the album to a climatic finish.
The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be is just one complete album of killer tracks. It is full of song writing of the highest calibre and really captures the feel and energy of the band perfectly. I know the band are proud of this album and quite rightly so. Ghost laid the foundations for them and Truth has built on those foundations in quite spectacular fashion. Go out and buy this album on release date if you haven’t already pre-ordered it otherwise you will be missing out on one of the best albums of 2019 and then the Joke really is on you!
Any Other Way
As Black As Sin
Joke’s On You
Little White Lies
Feel Good Hit
Have It Your Own Way
Long Line Of Pretenders
(If Only) God Was Real
The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be
Us Against The World
Totally Screwed (hidden track)
Wayward Sons Line Up
Toby Jepson – Vocals & Guitar
Sam Wood – Guitar
Nic Wastell – Bass
Phil Martini – Drums
Dave Kemp – Keyboards
Review by Darren Smith for metalplanetmusic