I might be somewhat bias toward these rockabilly cats. I’ve been lucky enough to get friendly with these guys over the course of the pandemic since playing a wild Christmas show with them in Bristol just before the pandemic. But equally they managed to sneak an entire album past me without my knowing. (Seriously, I thought ‘Cool Your Jets’ was a stand alone single…)
A catchy and familiar subject matter opens this records and it’s one that almost feels nostalgic. I too spent a lot of time at the start of this pandemic inside my own head while not even realising it. Then towards the middle of the lockdown felt my mental state altered – which was depressing enough, but it also chipped away at me as a creative too. This is a fairly common woeful tail told by most musicians and The Strays own front woman, Estelle Chamberlain, captures that perfectly for me. Whether that be the intent (I’m still not sure) but expression is about feeling and The Strays will have you feeling slick.
Many lines resonated including ‘well I guess I gotta be online, after all this is the life I chose’ and ‘I’ve got nothing to add, it makes me feel bad like anybody cares’ and I think it’s not only a (E)stellar way to start the record but also a very much relatable one. The Strays have always had a knack for taking common and sometimes less serious troubles and putting their own brand of shake ‘n’ roll on it. (A personal favourite of mine is the bands older drinking inspired jam, ‘12 bar booze’) and the title track/single ‘cool your jets’ is in that same vein. I mean who doesn’t know someone who need’s to chill out from time you time…and for those who haven’t seen the video, please do, those jets aren’t foolin’!
‘Hold your own’ is also a track I’m familiar with, thanks to the miracle gods of Spotify and keeps that same rock ‘n’ roll goodness throughout. It will have you snapping, jiving and swinging with the best of them. A song (or rather a band) reminiscent of something from The Legendary Shack Shakers this song keeps a you in tight and the head bobbing. This record really is The Strays showing what 2 years of hard work and a glance pandemic can do for the influences. ‘Snap out of it’ opens with a 80’s hair metal esq verse that quickly hits the double time and launches back into the familiar sounds we know, and ‘heyyy’ has guitarist Sam Jack Cordery showing off his brush picking over a eerie chord progressions.
We’re penultimately at the half way point – it’s time to party, and ‘MOAN’ is a perfect way to start it. This song sounds just like a smash and grab from early Kings of Leon’s ‘Mollys Chamber’ or Pete Doherty’s Babyshambles and I can see in my minds eyes what I’d want to see from this song being played live. There’s no reason this song won’t have you having a little jump or at the very least hurry for more.
‘Didn’t want to know’ really is just a great song. For me it’s all about the chorus and although some could probably argue that this wouldn’t be a single release I’d personally like to see it. This second half keeps up the party pace and with high energy and madness evoking riffs with the likes of ‘Fred Batt’, it keeps you pumped right up until the mega blues of ‘the house always wins’. There’s not much to say other than these are high-energy rockabilly jams that keep you craving more.
However it could be time or something completely different… Ok so, I was waiting for the slower jam but I wasn’t ready for feeling of BB King on acid with Black Stone Cherry as his backing band, but it’s a welcomed song and definitely a favourite. One of my favourite things about listing to an album is waiting on the one or two wild cards and when I say that I of course mean no slam at the song. It’s keeps up those catchy chorus’ and doesn’t stray from the foundations of the band.
The album closes out with ‘Book of Joe 4:14-21’ which is a song that ends this trip with attitude and grabs your attention right till the very end. If you’ve been able to shake, rattle and roll the devil from your soul, then The Strays have accomplished their mission.
Only thing list to do is to catch these songs live. This album is flying the flag high for UK rockabilly at the moment and you can bare witness to this over the rest of the year as the band will be playing with the likes of The Blue Carpet Band, Porcelain Hill and Sunshine Festival 2021.