The Cravens is a new band to me, and they formed and grew in the developing music scene in and around Boston (USA, not Lincolnshire) in the early 80s. The three founding members, Bill and John Storch, and Ron DeSaram moved there from Florida around1983 and, between then and 2016 when the Cravens came into being, were in a number of brilliantly named bands such as Crossfire Choir, Ata-Tat, Hillbilly Heart and The Sewing Circle Sues. Those bands started out in the punk era but quickly went on to cross the genres in the music they played and formed their own, distinct sound.
They now have, released earlier this year, an album called On The Line. The press release classes the eight tracks as “indie-rock/rock/Americana”. Whilst I wouldn’t entirely disagree, the indie is well in the background; the rock is on the lighter side (think Tom Petty) and the Americana just about shows through. It is more of a journey through the rock landscape of bands such as the Eagles, Tom Petty and perfectly encompasses what used to be known as ‘radio-friendly rock’.
Opening track, Highway, has a chunky riff made up of acoustic and electric guitars and a catchy chorus; it also has some neat lead guitar buried in the mix but no real solo that, my guitar-centric ears will always call for. Road To Reason starts with a solid bass line and uses the acoustic/electric combination again as the backbone of a Petty like rock song. The lead does get a short look in but is again low in the mix, which is a shame as DeSaram is playing some great patterns if you listen carefully. Stay Standing has dual clever acoustic phrasing throughout and the odd electric slide punctuating nicely. A short solo adds weight to a pretty good song. Endless Heart changes pace with a slower balladic structure and a solo so short, I nearly missed it! It was damn good while it lasted, however. Hard Times has a country tinge to it while keeping the riffing of proper rock. Once again the lead guitar is in the background but is a delight to decipher. Blood Flows is far and away the best track for me with the Stones like structure with its simplistic but hugely effective riff and an imaginative solo after the bridge…although I wonder what “I fell in love with a dragonfly” might be referring to. Message takes us down in pace with a delicate acoustic intro before the country cum Eagles cum slow Foghat strumming starts in. The solo is another example of how to pick melodically as well as suiting the song. Final track, What Would You Say? is more of the same with acoustic and electric painting the colours over a melancholic vocal.
This is a difficult album to categorise…I enjoyed every track and the musicianship is beyond question but in one sitting the similar pace and structure began to blur the tracks together. I bet they are a blast live but for me, a more varied set and more prominent lead guitar would have lifted this much higher. It is, however the perfect gentle rock album for an evening’s relaxation and imbibing.
SEVENdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Road To Reason
- Stay Standing
- Endless Heart
- Hard Times
- Blood Flows
- What Would You Say?
All songs written by Bill & John Storch.
Dennis Ambrose – Bass
Ron DeSaram – Lead Guitar
Bill Meredith – Drums, Percussion
Bill Storch – Acoustic & Electric Guitar, Vocals
John Storch – Acoustic & Electric Guitar Vocals
Recorded at Listen Up Studios in Lighthouse Point, Florida