Allen Thompson Band - Salvation in the Ground
Record Label: Palaver Records
Release Date: Sept. 4, 2012
From the album art to the musical output of all nine songs, everything about the Allen Thompson Band's debut album Salvation in the Ground is decidedly vintage. As with most current roots-rock outfits, the vintage slant is culled directly from Laurel Canyon and 70s era album rock.
On the whole Salvation in the Ground is a warm and amiable disc. Album opener "Dirt to Dust," seems culled from a Dawes b-side, while "First Apology," seems like a direct descendant of The Eagles. But then things take a step down on the pedestrian and derivative "Last Goodbye." Sure, it's a fine song, rootsy and earnest and appealing, but not much different from what others are doing.
The bluegrass-flavored "While I'm Young," is a halcyon moment replete with harmonica, piano, and mandolin. Music is good when it is simple, refined and authentic, and "While I'm Young,'" is veritable proof of that. "The Purple Rose and the Black Balloon," has a definitive Marshall Tucker vibe and it is here that Thompson wears his East Tennessee roots proudly. This is a feel-good, back-porch, whiskey-slinging summer song and hot damn is it something. The disc takes a small hit on the boring and underwhelming "Payback," a corny slab of filler that could have easily been omitted. Thankfully, Salvation in the Ground closes out with two strong efforts, the jangly Byrds sendup "Love One Another," and "Tell it To Me," another Dawes-inspired effort.
But for all the shining moments, none shine brighter than "Everybody Knows," a deeply soulful, heart-on-the-sleeve, take-no-prisoners ballad that is arguably one of 2012's best and most under-appreciated songs. Channeling troubadours like Will Hoge and Zac Brown, "Everybody Knows," is the very definition of an artistic mission statement. This is the kind of song that many artists strive lifetimes to write and never do. Thompson has hit a home run with this one and it is something he should not lose sight of.
Being that Salvation in the Ground is Thompson's first effort with a backing band, and the first release as the Allen Thompson Band, it is a fine initial step. That being written, the singer-songwriter definitely needs to up his game on the next go round if he plans on making a sizable dent in the over-crowded Nashville scene.