Reluctant Saints
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Reluctant Saints

Stockbridge, Georgia, United States

Stockbridge, Georgia, United States
Band Rock Country

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Reluctant Saints – Long Drive
*** (out of 4 stars)
Label: INIO Music

Unless you are a fan of extreme heat and humidity, Atlanta, Georgia isn’t exactly the perfect town to hang out in during the first week of August. But what Atlanta lacks in pleasant atmospheric conditions, it more than makes up for with a vibrant local music scene. So off I went.

I’m in Atlanta this week… in search of true Southern Rock, played by true Southern rockers. Ironically, it seems I found them in the form of a CD in my mailbox in New York City (that I threw into my suitcase and brought with me on my trip). It is a CD from one of the most noteworthy Atlanta-based bands — Reluctant Saints, who recently released their debut album, Long Drive. As I sit here in steamy hot Atlanta, listening to Reluctant Saints, not only am I enjoying authentic Southern Rock, I’m also enjoying a touch of jazz and a healthy dose of country. As the Reluctant Saints title song “Long Drive” says, “It’s a long drive from Atlanta to L.A…” and this album covers a lot of musical territory. If you’re taking a road trip anytime soon, download Long Drive; there can’t be a better traveling companion than this album.

The album is a very easy listen. It appears to be a solid Southern Rock revival, but there’s more to it. The songwriting is skillful and developed, and the harmonies are full of expression. The album evokes the spirit of classic bands past (Lynyrd Skynyrd is an obvious influence), but also lets the band find its own voice by passing through jam sessions every now and then. Reluctant Saints knows the power of a good musical surprise or two. Although the album gets off to a tame start, by the time “Song To Remember” kicks in (track 5) the journey has begun.

Enjoy Reluctant Saints performing “A Song To Remember”…


This is clearly a band that knows it strengths, as each song highlights a particular performer. They trade off the vocal duties and they come across with a high degree of musical sophistication, without it being too slick or polished. Here’s hoping this debut album leads to another one soon. In the meantime, purchase this one (and enjoy the best of what Atlanta has to offer, wherever you are).

Members of Reluctant Saints include: Brian Cameron (guitar/vocals), Nathan Morgan (guitar/vocals), Jon Cole (keyboards/vocals), Mark Wilson (bass/vocals), and Gary Chumney (drums/vocals). This album features special guest Hammond B-3 legends Ike Stubblefield and Rev. Oliver Wells, and was produced by Jonathan Beckner and the band.

To visit the Reluctant Saints website, click here.

Track List:
1. Blue Ridge Baby (B.C. Wilson)
2. Shine on Me (B.C. Wilson)
3. Long Drive (Wilson / Freund)
4. Down in Nowhere (Wilson / Wilson / Wilson)
5. Song to Remember (C.N. Morgan)
6. I’ll Miss You when I’m Broke (F.J. Colbaugh)
7. Descending (Wilson / Freund)
8. Right Behind You (B.C. Wilson)
9. Free (Wilson / Clemens)
10. May there be a Road in Heaven (Colbaugh / Langley)
11. Black Texas Highway (Richman / Kelly)
- Greg Victor


Country due Steel Magnolia (Josh Scott Jones and Meghan Linsey), along with Atlanta-based Reluctant Saints, made a stop on their tour at the Mablehouse Amphitheater in Mableton, GA, where they performed their hits for fans and friends, including former GA Governor Roy Barnes. Opening the show, the Reluctant Saints showed the crowd that they are definitely an up-and-coming band with their sight on finding a spot on the national touring scene. Steel Magnolia took the stage and wowed the audience with their harmonies and fun stage presence. Music News Nashville was on hand to capture the evening in photos. - Music News Nashville


“Writing a song to remember, is the hardest thing to do – Reluctant Saints Long Drive”
But apparently not for Atlanta’s own Reluctant Saints. It’s been a very long time since I opened the mail to a new CD, dropped that sucker in the player and was instantly blown the hell away. These five guys have it all. Musically, style, song writing talent four distinctive, yet cohesive lead vocalists that would stand out amongst the best in the business.

If you’re a musician and you hear a new band the first thing you do is listen with a critical ear; “the drummers got a fast foot, the lead guitar needs to pay attention to the band, the keyboard player acts like he wishes his instrument wasn’t in front of him, etc…” you can’t help it, you’re a musician, you want to hold the music at arms link and examine it. From the opening track, Blue Ridge Baby, by the second bar, I grabbed my bass and tried to join in. I wanted to play these tunes, I wanted to be part of this band. It was that good and these guys felt that together.

That first tune is a mid tempo ballad with a country feel underneath some nice guitar work. It has an Allman Brothers feel to it and a nice keyboard run in the bridge. Shine On Me shows off the groups vocal harmony’s, on another stand out lyric – this band really has four lead vocalists so this comes as no surprise. More nice guitar work.

Next up is the title track, Long Drive, just one of the standout tracks on the album. It has a more mainstream, modern rock feel to it and features a duet with Shana Alverson who headlines her own folk/country band out of Decatur, GA.. It’s a “comin’ home off the long road to an old love song.” Down In Nowhere immediately reminded me of Dan Folgelberg, both lyrically and in Mark Wilson’s vocal delivery. The piano work is real sweet here. There is something infectious about this tune and I keep finding myself looping it. There’s also a nice guitar fill in the bridge that serves to remind you that this ain’t no MOR tune.

Song To Remember Show cases Nathan Morgan kick ass vocals and guitar work. You listen to Nathan on guitar for just a few moments and you understand how he recently found himself playing Buddy Guy’s Buddy’s Chicago Club. He has got the licks, the feel, and despite his young age, can play the blues without trying to be a shredder. This may just be my favorite tune on the album. This reminded me of Lynard Skynyrd. check it out, see if you don’t agree.


Song To Remember–Reluctant Saints
Up next is I’ll Miss You When I’m Broke featuring the vocals of Jon Cole, who also does a great job on piano. There’s some sweet Hammond B-3 organ on this track added by Earth, Wind and Fire’s Oliver Wells. Descending has Brian Cameron back on lead vocals and the great Ike Stubblefield (Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raits) on the organ, and Tomas Ramirez doing some fine sax work. Check out Tomas' own album, The Lonely Vato he is a certified jazz, funk and blues legend from Austin, Texas and really brings that feel to this great tune.The vocal harmony’s really stand out on this tune.

Right Behind You is another personal favorite that made me think of The Bare Naked Ladies. it’s playful musically and vocally. Real fun rocker. Free is another great harmony guitar tune evoking the Allman brothers influence with Ike Stubblefield on the organ and even more great vocal harmonies. May There Be A Road is another great ballad featuring Jon’s tender vocals and sweet piano.

The album closes out with Black Texas Highway just to remind you these guys are a southern band and got country in their soul. that’s splashed liberally with some southern blues. the guitar run is memorable.

This CD doesn’t feature just another collection of “pretty decent musicians”. There is not a weak musician in the bunch. Every one of them are stand out instrumentalists and each could lead his own band on vocals. Additionally, there are some master song writers here. Brian Cameron is actually Brian Cameron Wilson (who drops his last name on stage for obvious reasons), has a great feel for his guitar and has a marvelous expressive voice, as does Mark Wilson (his brother) on the bass. Being a bass player myself, Mark really impressed me. Nathan Morgan on guitar, lead and harmony vocals is the perfect compliment and completes that dual guitar role that helps these guys fulfill that classic southern rock sound. Jon Cole’s piano work runs the gambit from honky-tonk to jazz and his lead vocals are sweet as sun tea on a hot Georgia day. Gary Chumney makes the band complete on the drums and other percussion instruments.

Individually, it’s easy to appreciate these guys as fine musicians and it becomes obvious why they have had success in other bands, Steel Horses who had some regional success and opened for national acts Confederate Railroad and Jupiter Coyote, as well as winning American Idol song writing contests and have been featured on Ike Stubblefield’s albums. Individually they have also opene - The Dirty Lowdown


Take a couple of guitars, add a bass, piano, and some drums; combine them with five vocalists who can also meld their voices into tight harmonies, and you have the Reluctant Saints.

The Wilson Brothers, bassist Mark and guitarist Brian Cameron decided to play together after a number of years apart. They recruited guitarist Nathan Morgan, pianist Jon Cole, and drummer Gary Chumney and the Reluctant Saints were born. The band has been together close to four years and Long Drive is their debut release. They can probably be classified as a southern rock band, although they have a polish that almost moves them out of that style.

They have a lot of strengths to build upon. They write most of their own material, which are sophisticated, structured, and melodic. They can also sing, and I mean really sing. They rotate lead vocals duties and the harmonies are precise and tight.

The music keys off the guitar interplay, as it forms the foundation upon which to build their music. The piano runs fill in the sound. There are a couple of exceptions such as the gentle piano ballad “Down In Nowhere.”

Sometimes it all comes down to pacing, and they explode out of the gate with three up-tempo rock numbers that accentuate their harmonies and melodic strengths. “Blue Ridge Baby,” “Shine On Me,” and the title song are all toe-tapping slices of slick southern rock. "Long Drive” is enhanced by singer Shana Alverson, who brings another superior voice to the mix.

The pace slows a bit with ballads such as “Down Is Nowhere” and “I’ll Miss You When I’m Broke,” but “Song To Remember” is a nice original blues tune with a soulful vocal by Morgan and some slide guitar by B.C. Wilson.

The packaging is excellent, and the sound avoids the pitfalls of many independent releases by providing good clarity and a mix that allows each instrument to stand out rather than being mushed together. My only complaint is the lack of liner notes. If you are going to have slick packaging, you might as well include some notes about the band, plus having the lyrics in print would also have been nice.

Reluctant Saints are a group that understands itself. Long Drive builds upon their considerable strong points. I listen to a lot of Indy releases but this one moves to the head of the pack so far this year. Hopefully they will build upon this strong debut album as their career moves forward. - David Bowling


"The combination of instantly accessible, hook-laden songwriting and sweet harmony vocals makes this pure ear candy. Songs like "Blue Ridge Baby" with its Allman-esque harmony guitars, are so catchy they stick in your head immediately." - Hittinthenote Magazine #68


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Nominated in the 2013 & 2012 GA Music Awards for Best Country Band, as well as in 2011 and 2012 as Georgia Country's Best Band, Reluctant Saints is not your ordinary country band, or even an ordinary band. But don't take our word for it. Just listen and you'll see. Featuring four vocalists and an award winning slide guitarist, this band is not your average group.

This band began as a quest to take all the things that make great bands great and put them in one package. Picture this...

Two brothers get together and say "hey bro, let's play in a band together instead of freelancing all over town. Let's
take a look at the rock and roll bands that have been around for 35 years or more and are still at it and see what makes them great. Songwriting? Tom Petty. Musicianship? Allman Brothers. Vocals? The Eagles. There are others, but that's a good start. Let's take all the best parts of these bands and put one together that has all of it!"

Sounds like a great idea... but it is possible? Listen to the first 30 seconds of "Blue Ridge Baby" and you'll hear four part vocals, harmony guitar, and a song you can sing along to.

Reluctant Saints combines hooky songs, 3 & 4 part vocal harmony, dual lead guitars, and fine musicianship in one package. Not just another band, these guys put on a live show you HAVE to see. The look, the sound, the passion for music, the catchy tunes... This band has it all.

The Saints were formed in the summer of 2010, and have since opened for Gretchen Wilson, Blackberry Smoke, Marty Stuart, Steel Magnolia, and more. And EVERY promoter and club has hired them back. 100% rebooked. Professionalism, musicality, all of it in spades.

This band has energy onstage, offstage, at rehearsal, and in the van. At multiband shows, the Saints always stand out for not only their quality music but the energy they give off. They excite a crowd rather than wait for the crowd to get excited. And the MUSIC.... it refuses to fit any one genre because it encompasses so many. Rock, Country, Blues, Bluegrass, Jazz, Soul.... Reluctant Saints is the melting pot of all the great forms of Southern music.

Band Members