Having seen Bad Touch supporting the Kentucky Headhunters earlier this year, it doesn’t surprise me that Truth Be Told comes hurtling out of the traps like a greyhound after its dinner. Energy and enthusiasm are their stock in trade. What does surprise me is the focus and quality that burst through in the first couple of tracks, ‘One More Night’ and ‘99%’. The sound is terrific on these openers – bright guitars bouncing off each other, swaggering bass, and booming drums.
The overall effect has the Black Crowes written all over the back, not least because vocalist Stevie Westwood sounds remarkably similar to Chris Robinson for a guy from Norfolk, and on these opening tracks the sound serves him well too. On ‘99%’ in particular he sounds entirely at ease, his phrasing on the money in the midst of a pleasingly varied arrangement featuring the guitars of Rob Glendinning and Daniel Seekings ringing in harmony.
|Bad Touch - good ol' Southern boys from Norfolk|
Pic by Rob Blackham
Truth be told, things are a bit more mixed after that. Songs like ‘Heartbreaker, Soul Shaker’ and ‘Let The Sun Shine’, feel cursory, the former a bit predictable while the latter is at least a solid slice of boogie. ‘Outlaw’ is a more dynamic affair, with good quiet passages, but when they put their foot down the vocals strain to come through, and the lyric is cliched. ‘I’m an outlaw, I’m always on the run’? C’mon guys!
They do offer variety though. ‘Waiting For This’ downshifts into something more ponderous, more European, with shades of Zep and Michael Schenker in the jagged riff, rounded off with an excellent, adventurous solo from Glendinning. ‘Take Your Time’ ventures back on to Southern ground, but in a semi-acoustic vein, while on ‘Made To Break’ the guitars back off and they rely more on the rhythm and the vocal to carry the song.
Truth Be Told is a good, bold album, and with a bit more discipline Bad Touch could have made it even stronger. But meantime ‘One More Night’ and ‘99%’ still represent a firecracker of an opening that’s worth anyone’s attention.
Truth Be Told is released on 2 December. Bad Touch are touring the UK from 19 November.