It had been a long time comin’ when ex – Little Angels singer Toby Jepson made his, for me, long-awaited come back to the scene with his new band, Wayward Sons. I have been a big fan of Little Angels since their 1990 debut Don’t Prey For Me and I always loved Jepson’s voice. Jepson has had a few projects since Little Angels’ split in 1994 – Toby And The Whole Truth, the singer spot in both Gun and Fastway – but none of them sported any longevity and to be fair, I had almost forgotten about Jepson had it not been for the short-lived Little Angels reunion a few years back.
When Wayward Sons debut album Ghosts Of Yet To Come was released back in 2017, I had no idea that it was Jepson’s new band at first, so that became a happy surprise when I read the press-release of said album. How it would sound, I was clueless of, though. What I found was that they sounded nothing like Little Angels, they were more edgy and raunchy, but the I really dug the record. And now I’m happy to state that it wasn’t a one-off – the Wayward Sons are here to stay and I’m hoping for a second outing that will knock me off my rocker. And the rest of the world’s rocker as well.
On a kicking and biting note, the album’s second single “Any Other Way” opens the album fueled with crunching guitars, a raw and organic sound and a striking rhythm-section. An upbeat rocker, the disheveled Classic Rock outlook marries just fine with the more Hard Rock injected arrangements. A fat and in-your-face chorus makes the song stick for real – a damn good opener. The chunky beat of “As Black As Sin” brings on a punchy and robust groove. This is Classic Rock with a grit that gives the tune a live-feel, short and concise and rowdy. I dig this. The leading single “Jokes On You” takes the band on a stroll down on Melodic Rock lane where it ends up grooving with Classic Rock. The piano parts reminds me some of E Street Band and the pop-melodies gives the tune a Bon Jovi outlook, if they were a 70’s Rock band. The tune also holds a direct and spot-on chorus that sticks immediately. Killer stuff.
On a slightly laid-back and mellow note, “Little White Lies” brings on a 1967/68 Beatles twist over the Classic Rock foundation. The big pop-melodies mixes ELO with Cheap Trick and some arrangements bring Queen to mind. The tune comes in a mid pace but with an addictive groove and even though the whole song is memorable and full of hooks, it’s the distinct and glue-catchy refrain that scores the most awesome goal here. Brilliant! The uptempo Rock ‘n’ Roll belter “Feel Good Hit” is a punchy and direct rocker. Groove-happy, raunchy and bang-on-target with a beefy refrain and a good-time vibe with Jepson hitting pay-dirt vocally. A good song that will work really well live. “Fade Away” takes us into ballad mode on a slow-paced note. It opens with only piano and vocals but gets poundier as the tune goes along. The song holds a steady rhythm with juicy groove, 70’s Classic Rock ballad style. Very good indeed.
“Have It Your Way” is a real dust-kicker. It’s rhythmically fat, the guitars are gritty and the groove is meaty and bouncy – an in-your-face kick-ass Hard Rock belter with an attitude. Energetic and crowd-friendly, the tune is a total album-track that’s memorable but without the spot-on catchiness – which is a positive thing here. This one’s written for you all to rock out to and we do need our fair share of those, right? “Long Line Of Pretenders” is straight forward and uptempo, poppy but in a crunchy Classic Rock way. It’s old-school Rock with raunchy guitars, a shattering piano, punchy and hooky melodies, not a far cry from Little Angels’ 90’s. The chorus is pop-edgy, full of hooks that makes it instantly catchy – very good. “(If Only) God Was Real” has a darker twist, but it’s still gritty and raw with a powerful rhythm and a headbang-friendly groove. It’s a very direct tune musically, but there’s not enough hooks here. It’s ok, though.
The title-track and fourth single brings on some crispy guitars and a beefy and groundy rhythm-section. The main-riff is razor-blade-sharp but still on the rough side, the tune is also very melodic with a mighty chorus where Jepson shines. With all those hooks, I’m not the slightest surprised it became a single. On a fast pace, the Sons cranks up the volume for the hard-hitting yet melodic “Punchline” where the guitars roar and the harmonious melodies marries in a fine, fine way with a juicy refrain that sticks without being the least air-play flirtatious. Good shit, indeed.
The slower paced “Us Against The World” counts as the album’s closing track even though there’s a hidden track right after it. It starts stripped with only some crispy guitars and vocals before it continues with the rest of the band chipping in, giving it a heavier approach and a steady, distinct and instant groove. It also holds a darker twist with some Beatles-esque turns. It’s on the ballad-side but still with a groove – very good. The hidden track is called “Totally Screwed” and I wonder why it’s only a hidden track. It’s damn good, see. Upbeat and straight forward Classic Rock that sports some melodic Rock melodies and punky riffs, making it gritty and raw while the song’s approach holds a big party vibe and a killer refrain that hits right where it should. To make a good, chunky tune like this a hidden-track affair is unjust to the song, I think, so make sure you don’t miss it.
On one hand, you can tell that the band now has been together for a few years as this record – in many ways a sister-album to the debut – is more varied and tighter. Song wise, it took a while for me to make the record stick. Where the debut grabbed a hold of me instantly, this one was actually a bit of a disappointment after the first couple of spins but it has grown on me quite a lot since then. Just like on the debut, what you get here is old-school, crunchy, hard Classic Rock, fuel-injected and raw and even though they have brought in Melodic Rock and Pop influences, it never gets sugary or mawkish – only melodic and catchy. I might dig the debut a little more but no shadows are cast over this album because of that. This a solid, stellar Rock album and I would love to catch the band live.
More Wayward Sons reviews:
1. Any Other Way
2. As Black As Sin
3. Jokes On You
4. Little White Lies
5. Feel Good Hit
6. Fade Away
7. Have It Your Way
8. Long Line Of Pretenders
9. (If Only) God Was Real
10. The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be
12. Us Against The World
13. Totally Screwed (Hidden Track)