Small Town Titans has, over the course of the past two years, become quite a big deal in the rock community. Yes, that awful pun was intended. From its surprise hit cover of the holiday song ‘You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch’ to original songs, such as ‘Dragonfly,’ ‘Devil’s Choir,’ and ‘War Cry’ to other equally popular covers and originals, this band has made quite a name for itself, and it has done so with the least amount of label help. Now on Friday, the band will take its next step forward on its journey with the release of its new album The Ride. The album has already spawned six singles ahead of its release – more than half of its album. As much as they do to show what makes this album so appealing, they are only a portion of what makes the album stand out. ‘Behind The Moon’ is another notable addition to the album. It will be addressed shortly. ‘When It All Comes Down’ does its own share, too, to show the album’s strength. It will be discussed a little later. Much the same can be said of ‘Let Me Breath,’ which comes just ahead of the album’s midpoint. It will also be discussed later. When all three of these noted songs are considered along with the noted singles and the one remaining unmentioned song from this record, the whole proves to be a presentation that, given the right support, could finally be that record that breaks this band into the mainstream.
Small Town Titans has, ever since its inception, been one of the rock and hard rock communities’ best kept secrets. Its star has quickly risen since 2018 though, and now with the pending release of its new album The Ride, the secret could finally be out about this outstanding band. The six singles that the album has already produced have more than proven that true. They are only some of its notable works, though. ‘Behind The Moon,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is notable in its own right. That is due in no small part its musical arrangement. The arrangement in question forms the song’s foundation. What makes it so interesting is that between the harmonies and guitar lines, audiences get a song that crosses elements of modern/active rock and a clear classic rock influence for its whole. One could argue that there are touches of Queen and The Allman Brothers Band mixed along with something more modern along the lines of Alter Bridge, for the same of comparison. When that musical presentation is coupled with the song’s clearly uplifting lyrical content, the song in whole gains even more traction.
The lyrical theme featured in ‘Behind The Moon’ is that of being willing to take risks and make the most of life. That is evidenced clearly in the song’s chorus, in which front man Phil Freeman sings, “The sun don’t shine/When you stand behind the moon.” The message is made even clearer as he sings in the song’s lead verse, “I was walking on the other side of the moon/Looking for another sign of life/I was trying/To buy another man’s dreams/In exchange for something nice/Then I saw it /I saw it coming from miles away/Then I saw it/I saw it coming from miles away/The break of day.” What audiences get here is that message, with Phil stating metaphorically, the song’s subject was trying to be someone and something that he wasn’t. That is made clear in the statement about trying “To buy another man’s dreams/In exchange for something nice.” As he continues, the song’s subject notes he saw reality in what he was doing. The optimistic, uplifting message continues as he sings in the song’s second verse, “There was a fork in the road and no time left/But I finally had a place to go and a reason to live/And from that moment on I flew into space/Towards all those burning stars with a reason to give/And you’ll see me/You’ll see me coming from miles away/Yeah you’ll see me/You’ll see me coming from miles away/To find my place.” When all of this positive mindset is considered along with the song’s equally upbeat musical arrangement, the whole leaves zero doubt as to what makes it such an appealing addition to The Ride. It is just one of the additional entries that makes the album so strong. ‘When It All Comes Down’ is yet another powerful addition to The Ride.
‘When It All Comes Down’ wastes no time catching listeners’ attention once it gets started. The song’s musical arrangement lends itself to comparisons to works from the likes of Hellyeah and Dope in its verses. On the other hand, the choruses once again conjure thoughts of Alter Bridge. That sounds on paper, like quite the musical contrast, and it is. At the same time though, Freeman (who plays bass along with handling vocals), drummer Johnny Ross, and guitarist Ben Guiles make the balance work. The end result is a fiery composition that stands completely on its own musical merits separate from the rest of the album’s works. That high-energy composition partners well with the song’s lyrical content, which delivers a message of making sure we realize where we set our priorities in life.
The noted message is familiar to rock fans, but interestingly not overly used, which keeps it fresh in this case. That is even more so in the fashion in which it is delivered. Freeman sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “You put stock in temporary things/Yet you cry, cry, cry when they fail to make you sing/You miss the forest for the trees/As if you’ll live forever and never bleed/Forever and never bleed/Ring around the dollar/Pocket full of power/Ashes to ashes/It all falls down/Ring around the dollar/Pocket full of greed /Ashes to ashes /As we all bleed/Tell me what it’s worth/When it all comes down/When it all comes down/Tell me what it’s worth/When it all comes down/When it all comes tumbling down.” The message is just as stark and powerful in the song’s second verse, which finds Freeman singing, “No one’s gonna save you better than yourself/No one’s gonna steal your soul better than/your wealth/Put two and two together/And measure out the way they make you feel/Feel, feel, feel.” This message is a statement of which listeners need to be reminded daily. We put our focus on all the wrong things so often, and we need to step back and make sure we know what is really important in life. When this loudly echoing statement is coupled with the power in the song’s musical arrangement, the whole of the song leaves no doubt why it is yet another notable addition to The Ride. It certainly is not the last of the album’s most notable works. ‘Let Me Breathe’ is one more song worth examining here.
‘Let Me Breathe’ is the most Alter Bridge-esque song featured in The Ride in terms of its musical arrangement. That is made clear through the combination of the song’s instrumentation and Freeman’s vocal delivery style. Even the choruses play out like a mirror image to Alter Bridge’s work. That is not necessarily a bad thing because the work still maintains its own identity despite the clear comparison. It is just one part of what makes the song worth examining. The song’s lyrical theme adds its own touvh to the work.
The lyrical content featured in ‘Let Me Breathe’ comes across as a familiar story of one’s battle with one’s inner self. This is a familiar lyrical theme for so much music, not just rock. It is inferred right from the song’s lead verse and chorus, in which Freeman sings, “There’s a game of hide and seek tonight/Between my shadow and I/And it starves for something greater now/As I sit here satisfied/It whispers in my ear and tries/To sell my soul for things that I don’t need/It seems it won’t stop until I break/Especially when I start to speak/Let me breathe as I try to clear the weight inside/As I find my saving grace this time/Cause the hunger never fades /No the hunger never fades/Let me be as I try to steal away this night/As I try to clear the weight inside/Cause the hunger never fades/No the hunger never fades/Let me breathe as I try to clear a space inside.” That inner battle theme is made just as clear in the song’s second verse, in which Freeman sings, “This game we play is zero sum/There’s no winner and no higher ground/But at least these words they save my pain/From this battle to which I’m bound/I say/Trust me you don’t want any of this/Trust me you don’t want any of this/Trust me you don’t want any of these empty lies/So get behind me and follow the leader/Get behind me and follow the leader/Don’t forget your place and remember why.” The existential message is confirmed without doubt in the song’s third and final verse, which states, “And I hope to God that this saves you too/Cause we all have shadows in our minds/And all they want is everything and all we have is time/And all that we can try to do is lead them to the light.” Overall, the song’s message is one of hope for listeners, reminding audiences that those shadows can be eliminated and that we can breathe again. This is a positive message that will resonate with listeners every day. When it is couple with the song’s radio ready musical arrangement, the whole of the song becomes a work that every listener will appreciate. When the song is considered with the others examined here, the album’s current singles, and its one remaining song, the whole of this record proves to be a “rock solid” (yes, that awful pun was intended, too) album.
Small Town Titans is on the verge of becoming a big name in the rock community. The band’s forthcoming album The Ride leaves zero doubt as to that statement’s truth. Its musical arrangements and its lyrical themes collectively fully support the noted statements. That is proven clearly in all three of the songs examined here as well as through the album’s existing singles. When that collective is considered with the album’s one remaining work, the whole of the album proves itself a memorable musical “ride.” The Ride is scheduled for release Friday through AntiFragile Music.
More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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