The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world





When I was in LA last year I was lucky enough to catch up with Mark and hear a few of the demos for this album round at producer Tom Lavin’s place. It was a great way to end my annual trip and the songs themselves sounded amazing. Well they say that all of the great art comes through time and even though it feels like forever since that July ‘Road Sick Eyes’ is finally with us. I said after listening to Mark’s solo album ‘Bone rail Tight’  that it was frightening to think where he could take this and to be perfectly honest this is one of the finest albums I’ve heard in a very long time.



Taking more than a few handfuls of blues, a measure of Americana, some Southern grit, a pinch of Tom Petty, two of Black Crowes, stir in some rock and roll and some West Coast sensibility and leave to stew. The result is like something you thought you’d maybe tasted before, but this time it’s richer and more rounded and you just want to dig in deeper. An album like this is meant to savour.



Opener ‘Pack It Up’ only hints at what to expect from an album, which beautifully combines the faster paced rockers with mid tempo grooves and smoky-barroom predominantly acoustic, slow numbers. ‘Pack It Up’ inhabits that middle ground and sounds like Tom Petty at his finest. ‘Lies’ picks up the pace, it’s one of the songs I had a preview of but the sound here is so much fuller, and the result far sweeter with some wonderful, relentless guitar overlaid on a rhythm section that snaps the lid down tight. It’s the sort of Southern rocker that makes you want to move to the South.



The curveball that follows ‘Monkey Boy’ is one that made me smile first time I heard it, it’s a mid-tempo track that sounds deceptively simple but has a refrain that you can shake from your head.



Any musician these days who beats out their own path knows how hard things are out there but even after only dipping your toe into this album you know that you are listening to something very special. The lyrics wind through these songs like silver threads and the melodies shine through the solid fabric of guitar drum and bass. Mark’s vocal is especially strong on the lighter songs, but on tracks like ‘7 A.M.’ a grittier number, it sells you the song and the guitar beats you over the back of the head gently and takes your money.



Taking it down a notch ‘Low Down in Vegas’ seems to drift in through the open window, mellow as latter-day Black Crowes tried and sometimes succeeded in being, it’s a song that ingrains itself in your brain, with its simple guitar line, funky breakdown and powerful vocal. This is real music for real people and as uncontrived as it gets.



Picking up the pace again ‘Sink Your Teeth Into’ is the sister song to opener ‘Pack It Up’ opening up a story that has touches of Petty about it before a simply huge chorus crashes in and washes over you. It’s one of the songs of the album for me and the sort of song you could imagine finding a spot on the radio: great music after all is timeless and this has the qualities of a truly great song.



Just when you think the band might have peaked comes the hauntingly beautiful title track, a slow mournful tale followed by the sweet Southern-fried ramble of ‘Slow Down’ which has shades of the Allmans in the way Mark makes the guitar speak.



‘Slow Your Pace’ takes the slow steel of Country and picks out a tale of a languid ride through life, but it’s the way Mark wrings the notes out of the guitar on ‘Wrong Direction’ that has a lush almost Mott The Hoople like quality in the swell of the keys that blows me away. It’s a huge song that almost bring a tear to you eye.



Most albums have their low points and as we close the exception proves the rule as we get two of what I consider to be the very best here. ‘God and Dollar Bills’ is probably one of the most straight forward songs here but great bluesy rock, that’s the gravy on the meat of this album. Closing track ‘Far From Sober’, a cautionary tale laid across a country groove that leaves a fresh taste in the mouth.       



Mark Knight and the Unsung Heroes have managed to create a refreshingly honest and approachable sound in the sea of musical bullshit we’re spoon-fed through the media. This is true music, real music, Americana in the truest sense. It’s an album built of passion, love, perseverance, craftsmanship and sheer will. Musically it smells of the American South, of Southern Rock and of the wide open spaces and lost roads that still cross the land. It is probably the boldest statement Mark has made in his 25 year career. It is a truly great and inspiring album and every time you listen it gets better, richer
and deeper.   





Mark Diggins