Shallow Side set the rock world on fire a few years back with their cover of Styx’ “Renegade,” which set the stage for their first full length- Origins, which just released last year. Fast forward just eight months and they’re back again with Saints & Sinners.
Normally, when a band releases music so close, something’s missing and the new music falls short. Not with Shallow Side, though. In fact, this one is even better.
“Revival” starts with a killer guitar riff, which leads into Eric Boatright’s attention-grabbing vocals. This one has the sound of a Shallow Side song but, with this being their sophomore record, there’s still room to evolve and not alienate fans- and that’s exactly what they’ve done from the start. “Revival” is a song that gets things started off right.
Title Track “Saints & Sinners” has southern rock undertones and, mixed with Boatright’s vocals, is a lethal combination that will hypnotize you early. It has a similar feeling “Rebel” had on Origins. This- much like the rest of this album- should be a live staple going forward.
“Sound The Alarm” has that Oh my fucking God element that doesn’t come around very often. It’s dirty and rock and roll personified. This anthem has harmonized vocals that add to the already-strong vibes. It hits quickly with cutting guitars and drums on the bridge and should also find its way into the live setlist.
“Drugs & Lust” starts slow but builds momentum quickly. It isn’t the strongest song on the album but it’s a good pace-changer. It has potential but slows down too much.
“Temptations” is a slower southern ballad that’s haunting and reflective but also showcases Boatright’s vocals while “Hallelujah” picks things back up with a backyard BBQ church service party.
“All Rise” is a southern rock, deep backwoods rock classic that’s a perfect way to set the stage for what comes next.
“Not Alone” is a genuine masterpiece. While “Sound The Alarm” had an Oh my fucking God element, “Not Alone” makes you say “holy fucking shit!” This is a huge style change on the record and comes out of nowhere.
The piano mixed with Boatright’s vocals are beyond beautiful and “Not Alone” is personal, honest, reflective and 100% perfection. When the rest of the band kicks in- wow- talk about heart wrenching.
The climax is a definite goosebumps moment and this is by far the best song Shallow Side have written yet and an example of why you should never skip songs on an album. There just simply isn’t enough that can be said about this song. If they don’t play this one live, they’ve missed the mark.
“Carry On” closes out the record on a strong note but it’s just hard to follow “Not Alone” and the two songs probably should have been swapped around. Nonetheless, this song is rock and roll to the bone and is exactly what you look for when you’re listening to rock and roll.
In the end, Shallow Side have reinvented themselves and written an album that’s nowhere near what it’s predecessor was.
While Origins was a strong album, Saints & Sinners is a great album. It’s more rock-infused, less poppy, heavier and more personal as a whole and showcases every member’s ability tenfold. If Shallow Side’s career were to end today, this is the album that will go down in history to define them and they should be damn proud of that.