Ever felt like a band truly had the misfortune of being dropped into the wrong musical era? You listen to an album and know that there would have been a much higher chance of commercial success for the band. All that said, it can be pretty awesome as a fan as we feel like we have this cool secret band that others would not understand, and you meet some really cool people along the way because they are also awesome enough to get “it.” Prophets of Addiction strike me as a great example of this as I listen to this acoustic-based album and know that some people would be totally put off by this album but then those same people probably don’t get Johnny Thunders either so I wonder about them anyway…. As Lesli Sanders and Glenn Gilbert have travelled across this world recently playing acoustic sets, this album provides an awesome studio souvenir of these shows.
The first thing to make clear is that Lesli Sanders has a very distinctive voice that reminds me of several singers such as Tyla (Dogs D’amour), Daniel Lucas (Boss Caine), Jesse Malin (DGeneration), etc. There is a gruffness, often a low baritone, and a clever slur to the words that serve the songs extremely well. Lead single and video from the album ‘American Dream’ makes the perfect opener from these songs as it features a strong quick hook, and some outstanding guitar work by Glenn Gilbert. There is a playfulness to the lyrics as Sanders looks back nostalgically on some old debauchery. The added piano really adds a nice touch as well. The tongue twister ‘Altar of Altercation’ follows with an extended acoustic guitar riff intro that loses some of the magic found in the electric version of the song. I catch myself each time thinking that I would rather hear it on an electric guitar. ‘Babylon Boulevard’ meanwhile sounds great stripped down in this format recalling something from one of Tyla’s acoustic albums. The dark ominous tone works perfectly in the acoustic format with Sanders rambling style vocal working perfectly with the music. Gilbert nails a brief well picked solo.
The band brings back some good time feeling vibes musically on ‘Talkin.’ Lyrically, Sanders tells us about someone that you just can’t talk to because they turn everything against you with some subtle ‘oooh’s’ added in parts. The guitar solo by Gilbert fits perfectly. Keeping a good time beat flowing, ‘Last of the Words’ is another of my favourites on here with its lyrical hook being extremely deadly. This really feels like we are lucky enough to be sitting in the room with the guys as they just start playing. The addition of the piano here again works perfectly and really adds some magic to the song.
Flipping the album over… at least figuratively since that didn’t work with the iPod… ‘Spare the Bullets’ brings us another solemn song that works extremely well because of its contrast with the end of side 1. Sanders sounds extremely fragile on the chorus with this being another song that should really appeal to others like myself that love Tyla’s acoustic works. At nearly 5 minutes, this is an awesome epic. Following that one was never going to be easy, and it didn’t initially help that ‘Hollywood’ was an early release song that didn’t connect strongly with me. It has improved with multiple listens, but the jangle of the music and the hook just don’t quite do it for me compared to the other songs here. The gentle ‘Atmosphere’ hits me hard though, and I can imagine that anyone who might have been chatting at a live show shuts up here. Sanders sounds like he is pouring out his heart (to borrow a term from another performer). The very minimal orchestra type backing works perfectly.
‘Heart of Mine’ keeps the momentum going and reminds me a bit of Michael Monroe going acoustic. Ironically, I have tended to prefer the verses to the chorus on this one for some reason, but this is simply quality acoustic rock n roll. Wrapping up the record, ‘Return the Smile’ gives us one final huge musical moment that is lifted by the resiliency in the lyrics. The initial darkness giving way to a message of hope and strength. I catch myself putting this song on repeat at the end of the record before I play it all over again. The chorus is simply beautiful.
Prophets of Addiction have crafted a fine addition to their catalogue with this acoustic album feeling a bit like ‘A Graveyard of Empty Bottles’ by the Dogs D’amour. At 10 songs, the album seems to pass by extremely quickly even with a couple of longer songs here. Sanders and Gilbert have done a great job of recreating the majority of these songs in this format with the only moment I caught myself wishing they had done something a bit different was on ‘Altar of Altercation.’ Don’t be surprised if this album becomes your late night favourite first and then bleeds over to the morning. As I mentioned at the beginning, some will not get this record at all because it is not flashy, hip, or current. I will gladly take these songs from the gutters, back alleys, and dives that bleed passion, heart, and soul as they infuse my spirit.
‘Nothing but the Truth’ is available now Buy Here