When you search The Red Clay Strays on a streaming service, you won’t find a lot. There are a handful of singles, but no full albums – until now. That doesn’t mean the band is brand new. The five members of the band came together in Mobile, Alabama, mostly to prove a point. The point was to produce an independent album with the money earned from touring, which they did over the course of five years.
That goal came to fruition in the band’s debut album Moment of Truth. The album is truly in the tradition of great bands from the south in that it is a healthy blend of roots rock and soul
“Stone’s Throw” is the lead track. It starts off with a bass line that will have you bobbing your head. From there, it grows into a song that feels like Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats. Brandon Coleman also adds some shouts similar to Chris Stapleton. A little more than halfway through the song, the melody takes a hard turn toward the blues with some slide guitar that is hard to resist.
The soul aspect of the sound really comes through in “Do Me Wrong”. When you hear the beginning of the song, it’s hard to miss the similarity with “Stand By Me” – especially in the bass line. Coleman’s vocals are in the higher range, kind of like Leon Bridges. The way the vocals were recorded, they have something of a haunted quality like you hear in early blues songs.
Some albums are made for blaring from your car stereo with the windows open while you enjoy the breeze and sing along loudly. This album is pretty much the polar opposite of that. This is an album made for slow dancing, whether it’s toward the end of the night in a dark bar or in your living room. “Wondering Why” is a shining example of that. The rhythm is deliberate and groovy. The melody is muted, and the lyrics reflect on someone special, especially when he sings, “She keeps on loving me, and I keep wondering why.” It’s the kind of song where you want to dance with a certain someone while the staff is putting the chairs up on the tables at the end of the night in a bar.
There tends to be a certain satisfaction in songs about women who are trouble. The Red Clay Strays have added one to the canon with “She’s No Good.” Over a melody (prominently featuring some rock and roll piano that would make Lynyrd Skynyrd proud), Coleman sings about a woman who he describes as, “She had elements of tension with all the wrong intentions. You could tell it by her mischievous grin.” She immediately sounds like the kind of woman you want to meet. The story continues in a familiar vein with a couple Dwight Yoakam-style vocal hiccups added for good measure. While the narrator is enjoying a conversation with the woman, along comes a man who is looking to brawl. Sure, you’ve heard the story before, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth hearing again.
This album shows that The Red Clay Strays had the right idea by going on the road so they could produce an album. This is an album that is both soul and rock and roll, with a decent amount of blues and gospel. It is sure to inspire dancing and singing along. Moment of Truth is available everywhere now.
Brandon Coleman – Lead guitar, vocals
Drew Nix – vocals, electric guitar, harmonica
Zach Rishel – electric guitar
Andrew Bishop – bass
John Hall – drums