The follow-up album to a debut is always difficult especially when the first Ride Of Your Life is critically acclaimed. When you are JOANovARC they make it look easy with an album of eleven tracks reflecting their power, passion and desire to rock out with the best. They are inspirational.
Opening with a flaming instantly connectable number Burning. This is a track that dates back to the London riots of 2011 written at the time as they saw people’s lives destroyed. If you have seen the band live you will know how the chorus ricochets around the venue so we are all caught up in the heat of the moment. The drums pound through the melody that Shelly’s lead guitar lays down. We are now warmed up ready for more! The band tackles topics that are shaping people’s lives the edgy punk feel of Waiting For You is not a love song but about the destructive power of drug addiction. How you often have to make the difficult decision to walk away from the addict as they wait for more drugs. Hard hitting and edgy, foot-stomping energy leaves you wanting more of the stylish rock that JOANovARC have created on their sophomore album.
Third track in and the flow changes the intro is gentler slightly wistful as the vocals open the number that builds as the band provides the crescendo as we go Down By The River. The guitar licks add depth to the rhythms and we reach the drama half way through as the band expands the song with pure energy generated by hurt as Deborah’s drums bring a sting and shape for the guitar to play from. Whilst the intro is control the end of the song is pure rocking energy.
Now we go down a different route with a rock-pop feel of People Coming Up as drug driven highs and lows are explored this is a track that buzzes here is a soulful pop. Then it halts almost as we feel the low taking over before the high takes over again to close the fourth track of the album. It is never my intention to explore every track in a review – leave some for you when you buy the album to find yourself.
The first single from the album is a celebration of their rock fueled credentials as they sing This Way, as they lay down their intent to be a band that delivers music their own way. Using Rock inspired by Blues as the vehicle is perfect for a song about rejection. This is a number that will get the music attention every time it is played. With Samantha’s bass opening slipping away we are transported back to the grungy world of the 90’s again the style suiting the theme of the lyrics about denial. We have all been there and the music reminds us of the numbness you feel when you refuse to face the truth.
Closing out this skillfully put together collection of songs is Go Home. The narrative is strong and the vocals harmonize as Sam & Laura sing the words and thoughts as a young girl realises the best place for her is home.
There is an irony in the title When We Were Young when sung by a young band! Once again the musicianship is sharp and beat has a dynamic flow that gives the song shape and allows Laura’s soulful vocals explore the lyrics. This is yet another approach from this versatile band stripped back yet still with a foot in the vibe that will appeal to fans of rock. Now we are told to Try It On with folk-rock as the band get territorial do not mess with them. Once again it is Laura’s vocals that drive the song to its rocky conclusion as the band bring the tempo up.
The album has been carefully crafted with lyrics informing the style of each track that have a natural ebb and flow across the album. Within the music, you can hear the influences from Foo Fighters, classic songs like Layla, 90’s grunge and Southern Rock. These influences never overwhelm or confuse the music they want to deliver they just colour the tone and texture that reflects the lyrics and feel of the tracks. As you listen to many of the tracks there is a point in the song where fans will not be able to restrain themselves and will join in with them sing loud and louder still.
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Waiting For
- Down By The River
- People Coming Up
- Take It Out
- When We Were Young
- Try It On
- This Way
- Slipping Away
- Go Home
All songs written by Samantha Walker, Shelley Walker, Deborah Wildish and Laura Ozholl
Samantha Walker – Bass and vocals
Shelley Walker – Lead Guitar and backing vocals
Laura Ozholl – Rhythm guitar and vocals
Deborah Wildish – Drums
Recorded & engineered and Produced by JOANovARC and Andy Hodgson at Orange Tree Studios