Artist: Sulfur City
Album: Talking Loud
Label: Alive Records
Release Date: 05/27/2016
Anyone going to Sulfur City should expect to find themselves smack dab in the center of a full-on ’60s blue-rock revival, where Lori Paradis holds court.
A simmering, humid swamp of keyboards, rough-and-tumble guitars and rumbling bass and drums backs the powerhouse, blue-collar voice of Paradis, who scratches the electric washboard until her fingers bleed and belts out stirring anthems for the downtrodden on the lusty, smoking-hot Talking Loud. Invoking the spirit of Janis Joplin, Paradis actually sounds more like a young Grace Slick, tough and uncompromising. The lyrics are just as earthy, but full of evocative imagery.
And yet, she and the rest of Sulfur City could stand to take a few more walks on the wild side, as they do in the fiery, raw closer “You Don’t Know Me,” where gnarly distortion and careening riffs recall the reckless punk abandon of X. Lively juke joints “Sold,” “Kings Highway” and “Johnny” sweat out the blues profusely and bounce to tight rhythms, as Sulfur City channels the Allman Brothers Band, the Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Matching the urgent push-pull of the Kills, “Whispers” surges with trailer-trash discontent, but “One Day in June” smolders in a noir-like den of iniquity not found anywhere else on Talking Loud.
Still, it occasionally feels as Sulfur City is holding something back, their attack more muted and sluggish in early tracks such as “War Going On,” “Pockets” and “Ride With Me.” Talking Loud takes some time to feel it oats, but once it does, it shouts down almost everyone else in the room.
– Peter Lindblad