Eyes On The Prize (2016)

Originally from Florida and driven by the talented Deryle Hughes (vocals, slide guitare, harmonica), the Simple Southern Boys tour since 2004 and opened for some big names (Foghat, Van Halen, Journey, Foreigner, Sammy Hagar). In 2009, they released a well made album (« All revved up ») and here, they do it again with this excellent « Eyes on the prize ». From the start, the band pays tribute to the famous motorbike firm with a rock that bursts at full speed, « Harley nation », which evokes a little « Last ride » of Doc Holliday. Wit h a swinging rhythm section and a burly solo in Rusty Burns’ spirit, this title beats down very hard. Then, make way to a hard Southern boogie with « Lost in life » and its gimmick of guitars at the third. The harmonic construction of the verses and choruses would remind slightly Deep Purple. A touch of harmonica and a « killer » solo embellish the whole. « Fallin’ » has a major impact. It’s a rock ballade (half hard, half Southern) with a melodic chorus easy to remember as well as a magnificent and melodious mixing Southern rock and heavy metal. An excellent work ! We shall also appreciate the magnificent break of « I’m not evil » (an hypnotic blues-rock) and the straight played solo of « Eyes on the prize » (a good mid-tempo hard Southern tune). The Southern atmosphere is guaranteed with " Family man " who begins in bluegrass (with an acoustic guitar, a dobro and a mandolin) to move toward a solid « Southern rock » with Deryle Hughes playing slide. The end of this tune moreover reminds in some Blackfoot. « Take a chance on love » appartient à la catégorie du bon rock qui balance et fait taper du pied sur un tempo médium avec un solo bien envoyé. By listening to the guitar/organ riff, Deep Purple inévitably springs to mind (« Knocking at your back door »). Well played !
« Hard to take » uses the same recipe on a similar rhythm but with a harmonization in minor chords and without organ. And it’s also very good ! No doubt, these musicians possess an enormous class ! However, we can indicate a light defect. Oh, next to nothing ! The lead guitarist is unmistakably very good and he masters royally his instrument. However, he should pay attention not to become excessive of the pure demonstration and the speed. For exemple, the solo of « True love story » should have contained more feeling and fewer notes and the one of « Florida boogie » (a Southern shuffle) is getting a little too « shredder ». But, except this small remark, he remains an incredible guitarist. As for Deryle Hughes, he proves us one more time his immense talent with this impeccable record which we can’t not stop listening on a loop. And he also demonstrates us that the Southern rock isn’t yet dead.
Florida forever!

Olivier Aubry

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