Formed in London in 2018, talented Americana quartet The Blue Highways burst onto the scene with a four track EP last August. Long Way To The Ground now sees the addition of another six tracks to form this excellent debut album.
The band’s line-up includes a trio of brothers: main songwriter Callum Lury (vocals, rhythm guitar and piano), Theo Lury (drums) and Jack Lury (lead guitar) along with Peter Dixon on bass and saxophone. Additional musicians were recruited to provide the pedal steel and horn parts which also form part of a varied sound.
The album opens with the impressive Teardrops In A Storm. A soft start sees piano and steel guitar back the vocals before the pace picks up and the song bursts powerfully into life. Blood Off Your Hands is slower and has a bluesy feel, with layers of organ and piano. Thin Air is dramatic and sweeping, a good song although the lyrics of cars and girls, escape and salvation feel just a little sub-Springsteen.
He Worked was the lead single from the EP, a fine lament on opportunities passed by. It fits well here, the ending more upbeat than the song suggests. The fine title track Long Way To The Ground has an ominous opening, developing into a tale of overcoming adversity using a tightrope metaphor. The uneven structure gives a tense feel and the sax comes through strongly. Cover Me takes the pace down, more of a straightforward and tender love song. Matter Of Love tells of a relationship that is going nowhere, yet neither has the courage to leave. The harmony vocals on the chorus brighten a song with a slightly dark undertone.
The album closes strongly with a trio of good tracks, all having a looser feel. Berwick Street is a stylish celebration of love, yet there is an undercurrent of grief and loss too. Borderline tells of a couple with big plans that don’t quite work out, but yet there is still hope. The simple acoustic love song Have You Seen My Baby has a much more country sound, with lovely pedal steel guitar adding a Nashville twang.
Long Way To The Ground has an accomplished and highly polished feel for a debut album. The songs are varied and tightly written, and sit together well as a collection. With strong vocals and lovely harmonies, backed by some fine musicianship, there is a lot to like about The Blue Highways.
Release date: 13 March 2020