Vintage TroubleChapter II EP I (LLC)

‘Rock and Soul’ had a lovely ring to it when Vintage Trouble burst onto the scene with 2011’s The Bomb Shelter Sessions: the addictive fusion of Ty Taylor’s powerful pipes and a powerful band made for one of the most exciting debuts in a decade.

Heavily backed by Doc McGhee – an industry guru who knows a thing about great guitar bands – and the go-to support for some of the biggest bands on the planet, the band’s ascendancy was unsurprisingly rapid. Taylor’s reputation as a peerless frontman rocketed and the future looked impossibly bright.

Fast forward to 2019 and the rock has ceded to the soul. Almost completely. The former’s meek surrender will be a hammer blow to those Troublemakers as much enamoured by Nalle Colt’s guitar heroics as Taylor’s visceral vocals. And it’s difficult to imagine any of the five tracks here could sustain the pace of a typical Vintage Trouble show.

Taking their lead from Terence Trent D’Arby and John Legend, the band’s self-styled second chapter is a brave, brave move. Brave, bordering on the foolhardy. As likely to alienate early adopters as it is to attract RnB-loving latecomers to the Vintage Trouble party, EP I is a five-track step towards widespread commercial acclaim and a measured step back from the band’s much-heralded roots. It’s an epic gamble and an obvious game changer.

Ironically, the acoustic versions on side B better represent the band’s initial appeal. Stripped back, My Whole World Stopped Without You offers a reassuring reminder of Taylor’s achingly affecting tone and Colt’s careful caressing of the fretboard creates an almost ethereal feel. It’s here where the band puts the vintage back into Vintage Trouble.

On Crystal Clarity an irritable Taylor asks ‘How dare you say I neglected who we are/and rejected who we’re meant to be’. The thing is, Ty, this is not the Vintage Trouble we know and love. That the band’s signature sound and trademark passion have been neglected and rejected is cause for serious concern. Chapter II provides a dramatic twist in the tale of this brilliant band – fingers crossed EP II revisits more familiar themes.