Power. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I start listening to Lane Dudley’s debut EP, “Just Ride.”
Lane’s vocals leave an immediate impression after the first several lines of carefully plucked acoustic arpeggios, instantly reminding me of legendary vocalists such as Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Layne Staley of Alice in Chains. Although Lane’s vocals and songwriting are reminiscent of grunge and hard rock acts, most of the songs are backed by an acoustic guitar, piano, lightly distorted electric guitar textures, finger-picked bass, and minimal drums, offering a refreshing approach to a sometimes worn-out genre.
There are several tracks that stand out to me immediately from “Just Ride,” from the dark and brooding opening track, “Matter At All,” with its blues-twinged lead guitar riff to “Give a Damn,” a classic homage to rock, marked by strong vocals, badass lyrics, and a driving beat. After listening a little more closely, however, I quickly noticed that there’s much more to Lane Dudley than dark, bluesy acoustic guitar riffs and strong, masculine vocals. A deeper sentiment makes a couple appearances on this album.
“Love Is” is a full-blown ballad, but it manages to maintain all of its masculinity– something that isn’t always easy to do and something that deserves to be lauded when it’s pulled off correctly. “Your Divine” appropriately comes right after “Love Is,” channeling the sweet guitar hooks of the Allman Brothers and blending it with the rugged earthiness of Eddie Vedder (not Pearl-Jam-Eddie-Vedder, mind you, Into-The-Wild-soundtrack-Eddie-Vedder Eddie Vedder). While these two tracks stand in contrast to the more in-your-face songs that comprise the rest of the album, they are arguably two of the best songs on the entire album.
The last two songs on the EP send the listener off on a darker note. “Just Ride” is the song from which the EP takes its title, and it begins on a foreboding and philosophical tone, echoing some of the themes that can be heard in bands like Dream Theater and Mastodon. The song builds and builds until it spills over into a perfectly executed bridge, which really makes the song stand out from some of the other darker songs on the album. “See Fire” is the last song on the EP and is also, in my opinion, the most Nashville-influenced track on this entire album. That’s East Nashville, mind you, not the clean and modern Nashville you find in Green Hills or 12 South. The whole song just has a dark, mournful, and chilling sound to it that I love, offering a review of the overall mood of the album and bringing the whole thing together excellently.
Overall, “Just Ride” is a valiant first release from an artist with a lot of potential. Lane has a voice that’s very hard to come by in the realm of singer-songwriters, and it fits his style perfectly. While at first he may seem a little rough around the edges, Lane is a talented musician with an ability to write truly heartfelt, passionate, and relatable music. My one criticism of the album is that at times it verges on sounding adolescent, but “Give a Damn” is the only time it comes close to sounding that way.
The verdict is this: Lane Dudley is a powerful vocalist and songwriter who tastefully combines elements of hard rock, blues, and classic rock all while maintaining the spirit of a singer-songwriter. I look forward to hearing more from him. In the meantime, show Lane some support by clicking on the links below.
→ Buy on iTunes
→ Like on Facebook
→ Subscribe on YouTube
→ Visit his website