Prepaid Friends [release date: 01.12.19]
This album had a low profile download/streaming-only self-release at the end of last year and has only just come on to my radar. It is a little gem that polishes up 24-carat quality.
Pretty much unknown over on this side of the pond, Purusa are from Oregan and do most of their business on the USA’s Pacific North West coast. Formed in 1999 and operating in and around Seattle, an easy, mostly valid comparison is with sound of Pearl Jam. Or maybe Kings of Leon. However, there’s more of an indie, less complicated, lower intensity feel about the music. The band list their own influences as The Tragically Hip and Sponge, amongst some others I’ve never heard of…. Put simply, they play solid guitar rock music with oodles of melody and have stuff to say.
‘Amnesia’ is only the band’s fourth album. They split in 2004 and re-united a decade later when vocalist/guitarist and lyricist Kris Kirkman got back together with lead guitarist Zach Hinkleman. The remaining band members are new recruits.
Kirkman pulls no punches with album opener ‘Julien’, an anti-suicide anthem, written in tribute to a childhood friend that took his own life at the age of 15. This is a gorgeous track. It builds from a folksy, Mumford & Sons guitar underscore before wholesome riffs and a hint of organ move the track up several degrees. Kirkman’s vocal is powerful, authentic and dramatic, especially on the simple, effective chorus. This is one of the best individual tracks I have heard so far this year.
The brooding ‘Maybe I Know’ is a personal song for Kirkman about family and parenting. The track builds nicely and has room for a few passages of immersive instrumentation. No fireworks here, this is just good solid song-writing and arranging, alloyed to crystal-clear but light touch production.
The musicianship is solid all the way through. However it is Kirkman’s voice that often raises the album above the average. He is assured everywhere, nailing chorus after chorus, wringing the lyrics for hardwired emotion and knowing when to go for the jugular. Take ‘My Love’, which begins with Bono-esque tones and phrasing in a song that has a U2 feel circa ‘Joshua Tree’. Then the track takes on a more rocky progression and Kirkman hits a powerful, growly strut at the climax.
‘Come Home to Me’ is a simple ballad that provides another showcase for Kirkman’s expressive vocals; and on ‘Memory’ he adds value to a more straightforward track with a floaty chorus. There are cute keyboard flourishes to keep the interest levels up, and it is topped off with a lovely guitar solo above a gritty chug. Another well put together piece.
Elsewhere, it is the music that grabs the attention. ‘Dandelion’ is riddled with delightful solos and ‘Hold Your Fire’ opens with a military beat and laconic riff, giving way to time and mood changes, including a proper old swaggering mid- and closing-sections, the latter with a dynamic set piece solo from Hinkleman.
Likewise, ‘Light The Bomb’ is a rockier offering, cracking along a mid-tempo vibe until morphing into a climax of spiralling solos and crescendo choruses.
In common with much of the material on the album, title track ‘Amnesia’ is slow burn with an evocative lyric painting pictures in your head and an infectious melody getting under your skin. There are anthemic qualities here and a shimmering ending that takes you by surprise.
‘Salvation Prize’ rounds out this fine, fine album with Hinkleman hitting the pedals and crawling his guitar effects around another impassioned Kirkman vocal. A neat microcosm for the whole collection.
This is not an album that will rip your throat out or have you slamming round your self-isolating living room with unbridled adrenalin. However, it will absolutely outlast the fly-by-night-merchants and have you coming back to the well time and time again to lap up quality songs, beautiful singing, fine playing and a hefty draft of spiritual sustenance. Outstanding. *****
Review by Dave Atkinson
The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 21 February, 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 7 February 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
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Featured Albums w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 RADAR Lost In The Atlantic (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 DURBIN The Beast Awakens (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN – The Darkest Days Are The Brightest (InsideOut Music)
Power Plays w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)
DEAD REYNOLDS Bright Lights
ALLY VENABLE Road To Nowhere
JASON SWEENEY She’s A Fighter
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