It would be fair to say that the UK has bought into The Cadillac Three. They have never performed here without selling out. They have targeted the European market more than any other fledgling band in recent years and the hard work has paid off.
The debut album was released over 4 years ago and apart from two UK EPs that contain three of the tracks from this new album, the fans have been starved of new material. The band have toured off the back of that album for long enough.
The gap has been very productive for lead singer Jaren Johnston however. He is one of Nashville’s premier songwriters and his personal list of song writing credits compares favourably with Nashville’s heavyweights. He also possesses a voice that is totally made for singing southern rock. Just that right amount of rasp and rawness in his delivery that ‘rock and roll’ demands.
This is a band that has the muscle of Big Machine Records behind them, but instead of being label-driven they seem to have entirely dictated their own path.
The history of the ill-fated union with Warner Brothers has been well and truly put behind them. This is an album that has been entirely written and produced by the band members. An independent release on a major label. The best of both worlds due to the respect that The Cadillac Three have built for themselves on music row.
They are not known as country’s heaviest sounding band for nothing. You don’t have to wait long for an electric guitar. This is an album that will be reviewed in the rock press as much as the country scribes.
Despite the love affair with the European market, the band’s roots are in southern USA and this is a theme that is ingrained throughout. “It’s all about the south, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Carolina”.
There appears to be a distinction between the songs that Johnston pens for other country artists and the ones that form the basis of a Cadillac Three album. You won’t find a ‘Beachin’ here. That song, writen by Johnston, was destined to provide Jack Owen with a career-defining hit. You won’t find ‘It All Started With A Beer’ that was given to Frankie Ballard and provides him with one of his album’s stand-out tracks.
Does he give away his best songs? Not at all. Johnston knows the career path that he wants the band to follow. Horses for courses. That’s not to say that there are songs here that other artists desired. Both Dierks Bentley and Jake Owen were recently pitching for ‘Ship Faced’ but this time the band decided to keep it. You can see why. It’s a potential huge radio hit. Think LBT’s ‘Pontoon’. “I’m getting sunburt and ship faced”…..classy!!
Cadillac Three have the potential to become a headlining stadium band and the songs on offer here will ensure that. There are a number of future anthems.
The album opens with the title track. An immediate introduction to Johnston’s superb rock driven vocals and “Rock and Roll” culture. “Bury me in my boots and don’t forget the whiskey”. A great line.
‘Slide’ is the band’s tribute to Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’. The hand-clapping, quick-fire vocal delivery and compelling electric guitar is all present and very correct.
‘Drunk On You’ will be familiar to many. It has been released as a single and played extensively at the live gigs. Probably the most authentic and traditionally country with Kelby Ray’s dobro all over the introduction before the electric guitars kick in. You won’t hear this on US Country radio however. Heavy rotation is not something enjoyed by Cadillac Three but this has been the stock position and has not proved to be an impediment.
‘White Lightning’ will be another that the legion of Cadillac Three fans will be aware of. It’s another that has been part of the live set list for a number of years. A ballad that has the masses singing along. A good combination.
This is a seriously impressive album. It’s best heard loud when the combination of Johnston’s vocals and the songs on offer will work their magic.
We have had the advantage so far with Cadillac Three. Catch them whilst you can. If this album takes off as we expect, they won’t be playing at Shepherds Bush Empire for much longer. They just might need somewhere bigger.