Highway 491 are a Glasgow based blues/rock and roll made up of Cameron Arndt on Guitar/Vocals, Garry Murrie on Bass, Alex Dick on Drums/Vocals as the original band members with special Guests Jamie Slattery on Bass/Vocals and Hooligan Sadikson on Drums/Percussion joining them for the recording.
‘In The Loop’ opens with the crystal clear jangling of a bell that continues even as bass and drums and guitars kick in, it's very well put together and well layered from the start. It doesn’t feel like they rushed to come in, but rather just found the perfect moment to enter the song, a bit like they were just jamming and happened to come across something rather than it feeling planned, and I suppose making your work sound effortless is good, a lot better than it being laboured and overproduced. You get the feeling even before the 30 second mark that the group work well together and then they start singing and it confirms that fact, the voices work really well together and it really does give off the blues feel that the band are going for and what’s better is that it's not schticky, it feels very genuine. I like this track a lot, it's a good opening number and serves well as the title track of the album, If I’d heard only this song from the group it’d have me looking for more. You get a real live performance vibe from these tracks which I’m eager to see if they continue throughout the rest of the album.
‘Fool’ opens with a straight percussion intro before the guitar comes in and it reminds me very much of a spaghetti western kind of tune, like they’d play it as two gunslingers faced each other down. I think Fool is probably my favourite track on the album. I like the rhythm and energy it builds up early on, and I love the vocals for this one, both powerful and unambiguous, they weave in through the instrumental sections and work really well together. I’d listen to this one if I wanted to work myself up to doing something, it has that quality of just making you react and move and because of that I think it’d be perfect to perform in front of a crowd. I love the latter part of this track, where the vocals are really honest and close out the tracks really well.
‘This is Not The End’ has a really tight guitar intro, acoustic and very lively, it flows really well with a little bit of percussion into the vocals, I really think the lead singer has a voice for this type of music, it's clear and conveys the feelings of the tracks really well, and you never get the sense he’s trying to sound like anything, he’s just singing and it's working. About halfway though you really get something, a cacophony (but a nice one) of guitar and harmonica (if I’m not wrong) which are just excellent, it adds a layer of authenticity to the track.
‘Surrounded’ is another track that sounds like it was recorded live which I really like. There is also some new vocals this time which work really well with the slower feel of this song. I could see this being belted out in some smoky bar, it just goes really well with the whole live venue scene. I liked this track almost as much as fool even though they are largely different tracks. I’d say this one is a little simpler, but just as strong a track on what is already shaping up to be a superb album.
‘Stuck In The Game’ goes back slightly to a similar style we’ve heard in previous tracks but still manages to do something fresh, lots of guitar early on, you can even hear the sliding up and down the neck of the guitar which sounds real and adds a little something extra. I liked the vocals most on this track the most, the voices work really well together and it just sounds great, it's not let down by the singer at all.
‘A Lie Agreed Upon’ with this title I expected this song to be a little heavy, a little deep, and the opening is certainly a little slower. I wasn’t disappointed. It's different from the previous tracks as it seeks to express something a little differently. The harmonies on this track are especially good, I have a bad habit of liking a song or liking a specific section, its why I’m really bad for remembering only a chorus but this song somehow manages to have me liking both the full track and specific sections independently for different reasons. I think A Lie Agreed Upon snags my second favourite slot for this album.
‘Standby Blues’ has a really animated intro blending strings and percussion really well along with a good voice, I think this song works really well in its official place on the album, towards the end blending the slower elements of the previous track with the more energetic elements of other tracks, it's a good piece that I’d definitely listen to again.
‘Crime and Punishment’ is another track that I was expecting something a little slower, this one I don’t think met my expectations but In a good way, It was bouncy, no doubt because of the accordion and had a lot of passion to it. It fought its way to number three on my favourites because it's just a bloody good tune.
‘On the Road’ is the final track on the album and it does it justice, it's another song that has plenty of energy and passion, it goes up and down really well, and perhaps out of all the tracks on the album embodies the live performance feel that I’ve mentioned on a few other tracks, it really feels like If you closed your eyes they’d be in the room and that’s what you want, you don’t want over polished studio stuff you want to be practically kicked in the head by a song, it needs to have presence otherwise you’ll end up not listening and ‘On the Road’ really delivers.