Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
Canada has gifted the world with some extraordinary musical talent over the years with Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Rush, Jeff Healey and Oscar Peterson being amongst the many shining lights to hail from the country.
The Damn Truth can now consider themselves added to that pantheon of greats, their seemingly overnight success with the globally acclaimed Bob Rock produced album ‘Now Or Nowhere’ misleading as the quartet had finely honed their craft over a decade before things skyrocketed.
With the irresistible itch of wanting to tour and building on their reputation as an incendiary live act forcibly unscratched due to the restraints of the current pandemic (even now it seems strange to type those words) the band decided that the next best thing was a livestream, following in the footsteps of the other artists who’ve chosen to reach out to their fans in this way. If you can’t bring people to your show, bring your show to the people.
There’s an unambiguous joy here, the band obviously incredibly happy to be playing live music again, albeit in front of a remote audience, barring the technicians there to film the event. Culling the live set from their three albums, there’s an extra relish in the first half of the show as they delve into all nine tracks of the most recent release, following it with a scattered selection from both ‘Devilish Folk’ and debut ‘Dear In The Headlights’.
There couldn’t be a bigger, more propulsive opener that ‘This Is Who We Are Now’, its soul drenched blues power taking off like a rocket from Dave Triana’s very first snare roll, as Lee-La Baum unleashes her inner siren, a mix of Janis Joplin and Tina Turner.
There’s a lot of the late 60’s and early 70’s ethos with The Damn Truth, their dress sense and whole vibe capturing those truly golden days as they crank out number after number that are both timeless yet seemingly catch the zeitgeist.
‘Tomorrow’ is a classic, uplifting rocker, Tom Shemer providing a mountain sized riff and ‘Only Love’ taps into more of a West Coast feel, it’s more relaxed nature punctuated by its fiery solo. The band are seemingly fearless in their outlook, the assured confidence coming from the years honing their craft up and down the highways and byways, a phenomenal ‘Lonely’ being a prime example as it deftly moves from Gospel in Southern Gothic blues.
With an acute understanding of light and shade that arguably equals Led Zeppelin at their height, the band smoothly switch from the acoustic led ‘Everything Fades’ to the powerful tidal wave of sound that comes in the shape of ‘The Fire’.
Throughout you can’t but help be struck by the power the band manages to wrangle, Shemer, Triana and bass player P Y Letellier providing the gritty punch and weave to the magnificent vocals of Baum. The layers that each band member brings is a finely balanced and altogether wonderful thing to behold, each a secret weapon in their own right as Baum’s guitar playing and Letellier’s Michael Anthony style backing vocals all add to the intoxicating mix.
‘Look Innocent’ and ‘Full On You’ are full of melody and balls, the latter fired by a particularly spectacular display by the rhythm section before ‘Shot Em’ rounds off the selection from ‘Now Or Nowhere’. With its epic, soaring chorus and twin guitar harmonies by Shemer and Baum, it’s impossible to think of a finer way to close the section before the older material kicks off.
The dip into the archives begin with the powerful one, two punch of ‘Pirates and Politicians’ and Get With You’, both dripping with a great swing, deep groove and screaming guitars before ‘Too Late’ and ‘Broken Blues’ bring monster riffs and a sensual feel, taking their time to work their magic.
A magnetic ‘Kinda Awkward’ hugely impresses but it’s the closing pairing of ‘Delish Folk’ and ‘Heart of Gold’ that truly seals the deal, both reaching skyscraping heights that labels the band as natural successors to the crowns of the aforementioned Zeppelin, with some Fleetwood Mac and Rolling stones thrown in for good measure.
The fretwork by Shemer is stunning, the bass and drums of Letterlier and Triana mesmerizing and it’s all topped off by the truly astounding vocals of Baum, the four unwittingly putting all other pretenders to the rock titans legacy around at the moment well and truly in their places. Accept no substitute, The Damn Truth are probably the finest rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet right now.
STREAM and ORDER copy of NOW OR NOWHERE: https://linktr.ee/thedamntruth