Vintage Trouble have had a remarkable few years. Opening concerts for rock’s greats, like The Who and AC/DC, they have certainly earned the respect of those titans whilst also exposing themselves to massive audiences. Their music definitely benefits from crowds like those; those who say the best rock music came out when they were teenagers (most people). “The Bomb Shelter Sessions” surprised many with its vintage style and clear homage to the original R&B, and the years when jazz and rock were infused so memorably. “1 Hopeful Rd.” doesn’t carry this on as brilliantly and unfortunately sounds too constrained compared to its predecessor.
The album features some of the vibrant R&B songs that Vintage Trouble have made their name with; the sliding, groove, opener ‘Run Like the River’ harkens back to their southern blues roots. The following song ‘From My Arms’ quickly changes style, going for a softer ballad approach, and sets a similar tone for the vast majority of the remaining album. ‘Angel City, California’ embraces the blues influence well.
There is a greater focus on ballads and softer material that hones their jazz influences. ‘Shows What You Know’, like ‘From My Arms’ is one of the more memorable ballads. The problem is there are simply too many and that takes away from the more enjoyable soft sections of the album, whilst also leaving the listener longing for some good old-fashioned angst.
“1 Hopeful Rd.” can definitely be enjoyed, but it is notably free of substantial energy, and that is a real shame. It’s definitely a good album and the band should be free to write their softer material, but must not forget to bring in the more exciting side of their act more often. They’re a band that sound like they’re playing live, and you’d rather swing than slow-dance.