Back at the beginning of June 2016, I was at Boston Music Rooms in North London to photograph Broken Witt Rebels, a brilliant young rock/blues/soul band from Birmingham (the original Peaky Blinders one, not the Alabama one). They were the support for a US band called Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown.
I had no idea who they were but found out that they had opened for AC/DC the previous day at Olympic Park. I was mightily impressed by their performance and Bryant’s guitar chops in particular. They’d come from playing a packed stadium gig to a sweaty 250 capacity room, and played with the same commitment. Since that gig, the band released a self-titled album in 2017 and toured extensively with other rock and blues legends including Aerosmith, BB King, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and ZZ Top.
Playing with such luminaries is bound to hone your performance, and Bryant had already displayed prodigious guitar skills. For their third album, Truth and Lies, (released 28 June 2019), they have clearly taken their live experiences with them into the studio and recorded the tracks “live” with minimal overdubs. Recording in this manner is a real test of how tight a band is, and they have proven it beyond a shadow of a doubt. This is thirteen tracks of solid guitar blues-rock that covers the full gamut of the genre. Opening track ‘Shock and Awe’ certainly sets the tone, and seems to be something of a mission statement. This is hard rock. But there are tracks that owe more to southern rock such as ‘Ride’, there are rock-ballads such as ‘Shape I’m In’, ‘Judgement Day’ and ‘Out There’, and others such as ‘Couldn’t See the Fire’ that display the blues roots that run through all the songs.
This album isn’t about breaking new ground, it’s built on a legacy of blues and country that has been the foundation of rock music since the late ’50s and early ’60s. Bryant and his band take all those elements and give it their own flavour, and if you appreciate the finer nuances of guitar playing, but also like to rock out, then this album delivers the goods. And if you ever get to see them live, do it, although the chances of seeing them up close in small venues are going to be pretty slim these days.
Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown’s Truth and Lies is out now on Spinefarm Records.