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"Long Way from Memphis" - A Rousing Southern Rock Revival by JT Hayden Band

With the release of their debut full-length album, "Long Way from Memphis," the JT Hayden Band captures the sound and spirit of authentic southern rock and country, exuding a refreshing blend of originality and classic charm. Recorded, mixed, and mastered at Artisan Studios in St. Louis by the skilled hands of producer Kevin Hamilton, this nine-track collection marks a striking ascent from their self-titled EP launched in 2019. "Long Way from Memphis" demonstrates an abundance of artistic growth and musical maturation from a band that has honed its signature sound.

Consisting of JT Hayden on lead vocals, & guitar, Jeff Traxler on lead guitar, Mike Harshman on bass guitar, Tim Currier on drums, and Dan Majors on keys, the JT Hayden Band isn't just making music; they're rekindling a southern flame, showcasing a deeply rooted respect for the legacy from which they draw their inspiration. Both a tribute and a celebration of those who paved the way, "Long Way from Memphis" finds the JT Hayden Band taking their rightful place among rising stars in the southern rock and country music landscape.


The title track, "Long Way Back to Memphis," opens the album with a song steeped in the soul of authentic southern rock, featuring skillfully executed slide guitar leads, overdriven rhythm guitar, and a steadfast groove, recalling the classic sounds of the legendary Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, two of the band's biggest influences. The gritty, rough, and road-worn musical vibe lays the perfect foundation for timeless lyrics like, "I've got my freedom, I've got my pride, I've got a raging fire burnin' deep inside." With its outstanding musicianship, impressive vocals, and memorable chorus, this track has all the makings of an enduring Southern rock anthem.

The following track, "Ain't Dead Yet," keeps things rolling with raw and relentless force, amounting to a one-two punch of southern rock attitude. Currier's drums hit hard, locked in with Harshman's brooding bass line, creating a tight and heavy backdrop for some tasty lead work by Traxler on guitar. Majors' searing organ rounds out this vintage sound that finds the band firing on all cylinders. Hayden's vocals, a compelling blend of Zac Brown's warmth and Paul Rodgers' robustness, pierce through the mix to deliver a performance brimming with conviction. Belting out, "I'm a midnight rider and a Ramblin’ man," the self-assured Hayden offers a tip of the hat to the Allman Brothers, encapsulating a defiance that threads through the album.

"Lonesome Road" offers a poignant contrast, touching upon the band's versatility and country roots in a contemporary power ballad drenched in introspection. The song showcases the band's dynamics through softer verses that crescendo into a harmonically rich and powerful chorus. As Hayden's harmonized voice weaves through the verses, a deep sense of personal connection will resonate with listeners as they, too, navigate life's winding paths.

Infusing a spirited dose of Bluegrass, "Rebel on the Run" features an undeniably infectious banjo lick that sets the tone for this mid-tempo tale about finding "the one." Hayden offers another excellent vocal performance here, highlighted by a catchy chorus that will undoubtedly have listeners everywhere pressing repeat and singing along. It's the kind of track you'd happily get lost with while driving along scenic country roads.


With its toe-tapping rhythm and narrative lyrics, "Bonnie and Clyde" encapsulates what the JT Hayden Band brings to the table: a fusion of old-school lore with a contemporary edge, wrapped up in a musical package that demands listeners' full attention. Hayden shows off some crafty rhythm acoustic guitar playing on this track that puts a modern twist on this classic tale of love, lawlessness, and life on the run. The band masterfully ratchets the intensity throughout the song, creating a compelling sense of urgency and pulling listeners into a story that would become the album's first official music video.

On multiple occasions while listening to this record, I found myself reaching for the volume knob and turning it clockwise, and that's an excellent sign. With this album, the JT Hayden Band has put forth an opus that's not just a "Long Way from Memphis" but a definitive stride into the future landscape of Southern rock and country. The JT Hayden Band masterfully blends its influences into a seamless and energizing experience that not only respects its roots but plants new seeds for the genre's evolution. A testament to their potential and a promise of what's yet to come, "Long Way from Memphis" marks the beginning of what figures to be a long and rewarding journey ahead for the JT Hayden Band.

Reviewed by Michael Scanlon


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