American Relay's stripped-down, two-man approach to the blues isn't particularly innovative. Nonetheless, the way the duo injects grit and earthy passion into the tired art form is refreshing. Nick Sullivan's fiery vocal delivery is filled with the edgy danger that many have tried to approximate but few have attained. And although they're clearly drawing inspiration from bygone blues legends, Sullivan and drummer Alex Hebert never sound like a knockoff. George Carlin once asserted that with the blues, it's not enough to know what notes to play; you have to know why those notes have to be played. In other words, you have to feel the blues to be able to play them. While the members of American Relay may not have endured lives of turmoil and pain, their hauntingly beautiful and defiant music sure sounds like they have.
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