Let’s be real, the last album from The Cadillac Three doesn’t really count. Sure, it had original material but the second half was a patchwork of songs from the debut album and the Peace Love & Dixie EP. So when Legacy arrived merely a year later, I was expecting something similar.
However, it’s eleven fresh tracks and Bury in My Boots was merely a misstep. Either that or it was fired out in that form to give them a chance to put this new one together. Regardless, it’s more Southern rock from the Nashville trio as they continue their meteoric rise.
This is a far tamer and restrained trio compared to their first two albums. Depite being Southern rock, they place equal measure on both of those words, making for something delightfully heavy to the point you questioned there was only three people making this music. Here, they’ve leaned more into their Southern roots than ever before to create something far tamer. It feels more like a country album with a thick pop veneer on top for radio airplay.
Regardless of that, the band are playing together tighter than ever and they know how to play to a crowd as evidenced at Download this year. Perhaps in a live setting, these songs will come across much heavier but they do have the occasional moment with songs like “Dang if We Didn’t” and “Long Hair Don’t Care”. With twanging guitars and Jaren Johnston’s gravelly vocals along with his lyrics, they paint a romantic portrait of Southern living. They hit all the usual hallmarks you’d expect from a band of their origins.
Songs like groove-fuelled “Demolition Man” and the stomping “Tennessee” show off Neil Mason’s drumming prowess. Hiding in the latter’s verses before taking centre stage on the chorus, it engulfs the song. It’s a stark reminder of the band’s earlier material. Whilst there’s no bass as such, Kelby Ray’s work with dobro and lap steel adds to the inimitable Southern sounds as you hear notes bend and wail.
While this album may paint The Cadillac Three in different light, one of the best track on the album comes in this vein with “American Slang”. A sombre opening leads into a bombastic finish as they detail the vast different people across the USA but highlights the similarities which binds them together. Meanwhile the acoustic-driven “Love Me Like Liquor” has Johnston trading vocal barbs with Lori McKenna and she acts as the perfect foil for him, even if her vocals are a little low in the mix at times. Meanwhile the contemplative closing song (and title track) sounds like it could have come from Steven Tyler’s country-driven album from last year (which Johnston contributed to, coincidentally).
Legacy is strange album. It’s about the only way to describe it. The band have dropped their heavier sound for something far tamer. Essentially, it’s a good album, something to play in the background even if the more radio-friendly iteration of themselves feels a little soulless. There’s no denying they’ve presented an evolution on their sound and far more polished than they were a couple of years ago. However, by doing so, one of the most ballsy bands in recent years have castrated themselves.
Legacy is released on 25th August