By: Jason Hillenburg
The second full length release from Montreal, Canada based rockers The Damn Truth, Devilish Folk, expands on what their debut offered while reaffirming the core strengths drawing the band initial attention. They’ve established a much deserved reputation as a fierce quartet set apart, if for no other reasons, by the bucket of blood passion from vocalist Lee-La Baum. The band’s songwriting point of view, however, is equally expressive and consistently finds a way to refurbish familiar themes while still imbuing with an unique character. They’ve shared concert time with marquee acts like Airbourne, Rival Sons, and Monster Magnet, among others, but this station in the band’s life is temporary. The Damn Truth has all the makings of a headline act and the sheer variety of influences informing the twelve songs on Devilish Folk seethe with soul and skill to burn.
Baum’s soulful and slightly distorted bray makes for a bracing combination opening the album. “White Lies” is the sort of gutter blues blast perfect for this slot and the band hits with a romping quality quickly carrying listeners away. The band’s songwriting never strains for effect; there’s a hard-bitten lyrical edge to this material that never feels forced. It’s raw and red blooded. A sort of wrecked dissonance opens “Wouldn’t Be Lying” before the band starts laying down thick distorted chords and Baum drops in with a wailing vocal. It has a rambunctious bounce that’s impossible to ignore. The album’s fourth song “Pirates & Politicians” has its moments, but comes off much less raucous in general. Baum often comes off with a leering swagger and drummer Dave Traina energetically hammers away. “Hangin’ On” has a great, tone-setting opening and Lee-La Baum’s blinding belt doesn’t hold anything back. This is one of the purest rock and roll moments on the album, though some listeners might clamor for an even bigger break out moment than this performance provides.
The ominous Strum and Drang driving “Leave It in the Dark” might sound ham fisted in a lesser band’s hands, but The Damn Truth brings it off by never laying on the dramatics too thick and a lead singer who knows just what spaces to fill. It’s an excellent example of the unpredictable turns their songwriting can take and sounds like a fresh reinvention of familiar formulas. “Broken Blues” dives over the edge into a slaughterhouse – this is blues cast in desperation with a tempo that sounds torn out of the band in long, bloody sheets. Baum’s often tortured yowl is an ideal fit. The album’s title song takes things in a very different direction. The hypnotic guitar figure beginning the track is embellished by some discreetly laid lead lines and Baum’s performance shows versatility that will surprise no one paying attention. This is, undoubtedly, one of the album’s gem and a big reason is the slow, dramatic build it embraces. The Damn Truth closes Devilish Folk with the sure crowd pleaser “Get With You”. It’s the band embracing their groove-centric tendencies as they make their exit and it’s just the right note to end things on. The band’s renown is already on the upswing and this album is sure to give it an added surge.