Thursday 16 May 2019

Magnolia Moon - Magnolia Moon (2019)

Country: USA
Style: Southern Rock
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 11 May 2019
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Official Website

It seems that Magnolia Moon have been building quite the name for themselves in their home town of Macon, GA, where they're sponsored by two, count 'em, two breweries. How frickin' cool is that? They're a band of brothers, quite literally, with two Horton brothers, two Crowell brothers and Dwayne Boswell wrapping up the line up on keyboards, and these guys really rock.

I've tagged this as southern rock, so you're probably conjuring up a Lynyrd Skynyrd clone in your mind, but that's really not what these guys do. Sure, there's, inevitably, some Skynyrd in here, especially in the vocals of Zack Horton, but I'd suggest the Allman Brothers as a more overt influence, as I doubt anyone could miss from the two minute intro.

They play longer songs, not one of the six tracks proper here clocking in at under five and a half minutes. Mostly this is because, as sweet and pure as Horton's voice is, they're a jam band and they need space in between all the verses and choruses to explore how best to weave their instruments together to create something special. I should add that he's a major part of that too as one of the band's two guitarists.

I don't know how long they've been playing together, but they're very tight indeed and I could believe they all grew up with instruments in their hands preparing for this debut album. Everyone shines here but, even when they're in the spotlight, they shine as part of a band rather than as an overt star in its midst.

Surely they grew up listening to the classic rock legends of the seventies, because that's what shines through here. They cite the first three albums from Led Zeppelin and the first three from Black Sabbath as key influences, and there's certainly some of each here. The midsection of Daylight sees Horton add a lot of Robert Plant into his Ronnie van Zant and the rest of the band make similar adjustments.

It's actually hard to call out the rest for a couple of reasons. One is that Magnolia Moon never quite sound like anyone else, except for that intro, but incorporate a lot of other bands into their own sound. The other is that it is insanely easy to get lost in this music. I was taking notes on the Stevie Ray Vaughn nods in The High and the funk in Gypsy Woman and all of a sudden, the band were wrapping up Daylight and I realised that I'd spent the three intervening tracks in thrall, being carried along by these waves of sound.

Daylight is certainly the deepest track here, but it also has longer to play with, running almost eight and a half minutes. It's fair to say, however, that all these tracks feel deep. While there's nothing impenetrable here, I couldn't pick out a single. That's just not what Magnolia Moon do. They're not going to suddenly turn into the Georgia Satellites or the Black Crowes for the sake of commerciality, though they trawl some of the same territory and River Queen has strong hints of the latter. They're an album band.

And, of course, I'm sure they're a band who thrive most on the stage, where these five or six minute songs could become ten or fifteen minute jams. The five and a half minutes of Nothing Left honestly felt like fifteen but in a good way. It didn't drag, it just drew me in so far that I completely lost track of time. And that stood true on a second and a third listen, which is a heck of a subconscious compliment really. The same goes for Underwater in its final sections, because the band just rips.

I think this unashamed leap back into the seventies is fantastic stuff and Magnolia Moon are going to grow into a real force to be reckoned with. The big question is how underground they're going to remain, because this isn't the sort of thing that the radio is going to pick up on. I hope they break it somehow without turning commercial because they deserve to be heard.

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