Wayward Sons marks a welcome return to records for Little Angels’ Toby Jepson. He has been keeping himself busy in the meantime sat in the producer’s seat for such acts as Saxon, The Answer and The Virginmarys but it was as the lead singer of the Little Angels that Jepson is going to be fondly remembered. For those not familiar with the Little Angels, they did pretty well in the UK in the late 80s and early 90s and along with the likes of Thunder, The Almighty, Wolfsbane and The Quireboys headed a short-lived scene known at the time as the new wave of NWOBHM. This was in the days when Radio 1 would broadcast live gigs form Monsters of Rock and Wembley Arena featuring such bands.
When you have been in a previously successful band and you are embarking alone there must always be a massive amount of pressure and expectation for you and this must influence the record you make and the way that you approach it. I think in Jepson’s case he does have the advantage of time. It has been sometime since Little Angels split but I think that pressure is still there; the fact I am even talking about it confirms that, I mean I have expectations I suppose as well. One of the strengths of Little Angels was their live performances (which Mosh and myself can confirm having seen them on their 1993 tour at St George’s Hall in Bradford when we were students) so it comes as no surprise that Jepson has based this new band on the organic live sound and he wanted to ensure before he started to record that this band could rock in the live environment and this due diligence is apparent throughout Ghosts of Yet to Come.
I have to admit it took me a few listens through to really get into the vibe of Ghosts of Yet to Come. The live feel, the shit-kicking rock and roll was apparent form the very first listen but I suspect that at the back of my mind I was still expecting to hear Little Angels – see, the weight of expectations. There is an incredible enthusiasm throughout the album and it never really lets up. Don’t expect ballads and slow burning numbers think instead a classic 60s slightly blues-tinged rock and roll working band. A band that sounds tight but is there to ultimately entertain you. This is rock and roll, mainlined. I think what will grab you is that this is band loving getting together and just playing.
Once I had given the album a few listens it really started to grow on me. I don’t know about you but quite often albums that I instantly love and want to play a few of the tracks again and again I soon bore off and never listen to the album again whereas those albums that take a little longer to worm their way into your soul are the ones you will start to live and breathe and will still be playing in ten years’ time.
If I wanted to sum up Wayward Sons’ sound and vibe then there is a trio of tracks in the middle of the album that demonstrate this perfectly. It starts with “Ghost”, the third track of the album; a riff-based little number. Jepson’s voice is totally on form and on the basis of the riff and vocal combination it’s a pretty simple number but for me it’s one of the most evocative and emotional songs on the album with a bridge/chorus combination that is epic. It’s a great example of a band that really feeds off each other and are tuned into each other’s wave-length. As good as anything I have heard Jepson involved with before.
“I Don’t Wanna Go” Is the next of these three tracks and is different in as much as it is very bass driven but again it is a simple riff based song with the vocals and guitar starting with a call and response style theme but the ‘I Don’t Wanna Go’ refrain turning into the ‘rock and roller’ verse is completely addictive. Very bluesy. The final song at these three is “Give It Away” which for me is probably the most modern-sounding of the tracks and very vocal driven. Again, they manage to introduce a completely addictive bridge to chorus. The choice of chord sequences completely suits Jepson’s style and this is where the strength of the Wayward Sons is for me.
By far my favourite track on the album is “Be Still”. It has a classic Thin Lizzy sounding guitar and narrative story telling feel to it but then as the chorus comes in it does a quick pass and turns into a classic sing along more American feeling chorus. Absolutely classic, it has a nod to 70s narrative rock and roll but it’s completely vibrant and fresh. You will love this song I assure you.
One other track I want to mention as it really drew my attention is album closer “Something Wrong”. It starts in a laid-back blues song, mid-paced, classic Jepson story but it naturally builds throughout, never losing that almost Southern rock, blues feel. Great album closer.
Ghosts of Yet To Come turns out to be an entirely apt album title. This is a forward-looking album that takes its influences from the 70s onwards and the projects members have been involved with and injects a whole new life into it. It is quietly addictive, building in your esteem the more you listen to it and really what is the most exciting is that you get the feeling that this really is only just the beginning and that there is more pure rock and roll to come. This could be a band you really fall in love with.
Ghosts of Yet To Come is out Friday 15th September