As good an old-school Classic Rock 'n' Roll album as you're likely to hear this year, Bad Touch are onto a sure-fire winner.
Bad Touch's debut, 'Half Way Home', was one of my favourite releases of last year. Its blend of good ol' Rock 'n' Roll and Led Zeppelin-inspired Bluesy stomp a notably mature creation from the young Norwich-based quintet. This led to support slots with the likes of Tyketto and The Answer which has only enhanced their reputation as a hard-working outfit. Sophomore effort 'Truth Be Told' ups the ante considerably.
That Rolling Stones-ish Rock 'n' Roll swagger still permeates throughout the more commercial material on offer, such as 'Made To Break', 'Let The Sun Shine', the irresistible groove of 'Heartbreaker, Soulshaker' and the excellent first single '99%' (a real ear-worm of a track) alongside the traditional Zeppelin feel. Deciding to infuse a Southern Rock influence into their sound has been a masterstroke. Opener 'One More Night' is the sort of song The Black Crowes would kill for, 'Outlaw' has the hallmarks of a seventies Lynyrd Skynyrd classic while the epic closer 'The Mountain' develops from its Folky opening into a dark, thought-provoking Southern Rock monster, the kind of thing Whiskey Myers excel at.
An impressively talented outfit, BT never overplay their hand. They're blessed with a supremely tight rhythm section and a true guitar hero (without the slightest hint of ego – the best kind) in Rob Glendinning, a guitarist capable of shredding with the best of them yet still able to demonstrate a real restraint and understanding of the Blues. However, it's the gargantuan leap forward in character of the vocals of Stevie Westwood that have made the largest impression on me. Already a charismatic front-man, here Westwood's vocal is pushed to unheard lengths with added power and dynamism to dramatic effect, whether during the confident strut of the harder Rocking material or during the plaintive, gentler moments. The biggest example of the band's maturity in their composition and arranging skills is the awareness of when to completely strip back the instrumentation and let Westwood's vocals sweep to the fore. They employ this tactic on numerous occasions throughout, be it his angry, almost snarling delivery during the moody Zep-stomp of 'Waiting For This', briefly on the aforementioned 'Outlaw' or during the emotive, Bluesy ballad 'Take Your Time'.
As good an old-school Classic Rock 'n' Roll album as you're likely to hear this year, Bad Touch are onto a sure-fire winner. With youth and talent on their side, big things are expected.