Album: Burning Bridges
Released: April 2015
Hailing from the south coast of England, Bournemouth rock quartet The Saw have recently released their debut full length LP “Burning Bridges”.
According to the band, “Burning Bridges” showcases their original songs and demonstrates their West Coast ambient and 70’s Rock influences. And in doing this they have crafted an album that not only looks proudly over the glory days of rock, but also has enough artistic merit to carry the music into the present with high hopes for the future.
The Saw’s first release came in March 2015 with the release of their single “Short Fuse”. With its crunchy hard-rock guitar riffs harking back to early Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy, they spared no expense in letting people know of their intentions. The Saw are not only here to remind us of how great rock music WAS, they’re here to show us how great rock music STILL IS.
April 2015 saw the release of their 12-track full length album “Burning Bridges” which curiously does not include “Short Fuse”, however it does offer an expansion of the sounds they introduced on their debut single. It was recorded at Delmontie Studios in Bournemouth over a 2 year period and the album has been lovingly crafted by the band and expertly produced by Jack Bass.
“Burning Bridges” opens with its title-track, an incredibly summery and catchy number in which lead vocalist Phil Best sings about wilfully leaving the past behind you for better or for worse. It does a great of job of setting the scene for the album with guitar-play that reminds me of early 1970’s era The Who.
The second track “One Shot” opens with a wonderful guitar riff (a common theme for this band) which intertwines with Pete Clarkson’s blues-influenced lead melody. However of particular note is the catchiness of the track, these guys know how to write a great pop song and they don’t let their stylistic direction interfere with this strength. Tracks like “One Shot” could happily rub shoulders with Kiss and Lynryd Skynryd on Planet Rock FM.
“All Hung Up” opens immediately with a sunny double-tracked guitar riff which one would expect from Brian May if he ever played with the Beach Boys. However the lyrics paint a darker picture of loneliness and loss, and this is really brought home by the key-change in the songs chorus’ which features 80’s gothic-rock inspired guitar tones, right before switching back and pulling the listener back into the light.
It should be noted that “Burning Bridges” is littered with subtle flourishes that keeps the listener guessing and it’s particularly impressive how The Saw gradually bring in a wider range of musical influences as the album plays out. Whilst much of this album is heavily inspired by the rock music of the 1970’s you can still hear a strong influence of 90’s brit-pop and shoe-gaze in these songs. However it is tracks like “Him Over Me” that will really turn your head. I nearly gave myself whiplash when I first heard the slinky reggae rhythm of this song and the bands brilliant ability to meld it into their sound without it being forced. The break in middle of the song was made to be chanted by masses of people in stadiums and this easily stands as one of the catchiest songs from the album.
The 9th track “Sight For Sore Eyes” does a great job of showcasing the band members’ musical influences. It opens with a bouncy guitar riff and is probably the closest The Saw get to old fashioned rock-and-roll on this LP. Dirk McQuickly’s steady and feather-light drumming really keeps this song rolling on down the highway and into the sunset. However despite all of this bands influences, they never sound like they’re trying to mimic anyone and Phil Best’s vocals (which I can only describe as a blend of Jim Morrison and Richard Ashcroft with a hint of Morrissey) do a great job of colouring their songs with a distinctive mark that sets them apart from their peers and gives them an original-yet-familiar sound which can only take them higher and higher.
The Saw round off their first album with the epic rocker “Drama Queen” which continues their penchant for subtly surprising their audience and it’s a gutsy move to close their LP with one of its hardest and heaviest songs (which features an awesome guitar solo by the way). I’m given the impression that this track is not meant to be any kind of conclusion and might even be an indicator to their future direction. After the summer vibes of “Burning Bridges”, could we be expecting something a bit more edgy and gritty from this four-piece in the future? Who knows! But regardless of where they go from here, I for one can’t wait to see what new tricks they have up their sleeves.
Also “Burning Bridges” is available for streaming via ReverbNation.
My only criticism of this LP has to be that the band occasionally have the tendency to stick too close to their guns in terms of their influences, and that too many of the songs fade out into silence much like the old records of the 60’s and 70’s used to. However this just aides them in making an album which effectively emulates the retro feel that they have strived for. And all in all “Burning Bridges” is a wonderful testament to that idea and will most likely be enjoyed by fans of old and new rock music in equal measure.
In conclusion “Burning Bridges” is a good old fashioned back-to-basics rock album which is crammed with great songs and some real tasty riffs. It is clear that The Saw are here for the long haul and have an ear for well-crafted pop-rock. They might be aiming for a niche market, but they do it with true grace and professionalism. And if they’re happy with what they’re doing, then you should be too.
By Louis Cooper-Hughes
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