CHICAGO, IL- Upon listening to Nashville outfit The Hollow Roots’ self-titled debut, their hard southern edge is apparent. The seven-track EP is full of driving guitar and smashing high-hats, and when paired with vocalist/guitarist Zach Chadwick’s soulful drawl, makes for a Raconteurs-meets-Alabama Shakes vibe that is hard to ignore – and even harder to resist.

Echoes of the classics are also apparent, especially Cream, with many a bluesy lick punctuating each of the songs on the record. Tracks including album opener “Your Lips” especially draw this comparison to mind, with slow and sultry guitar from Chadwick and Colten Delgado accented by Tyler Stonell’s thumping bass line and Billy Kitterman’s clean but crackling drum hits.

”I Can Never Tell” is also along the Cream comparison, with clipped vocals matched with short, soulful blasts of guitar, catchy enough to make the melody stick to your brain. For this listener, I can almost hear Eric Clapton playing along with this song in particular.

Some tracks, like “Chandeliers,” bring Jack White to mind with its fast-paced, amp-blasting sentimentality, with Chadwick singing “Take me for what I am” over a chorus laced with crunching guitars and relentless pep. It’s one of those tracks that helps keep the balance between a straight blues rock record and the alt edge that keeps them contemporary. “Hurricane Blues” follows suit very similarly, guitars still driving alongside the trimmed but passionate vocals.

“Scars” is a particularly southern-tinged song – the drawl is heavy, the guitars are wailing, and the biblical undertones in the lyrics are defiantly remorseful (“I don’t think anyone is saving my so-oul”).Contrastingly, “Moving On” is along the alt-rock line with its more defined, harder chorus.

“Waiting Room” takes a little more inspiration from Led Zeppelin, and if Chadwick’s vocal echo doesn’t immediately remind you of Robert Plant, rewind the track and turn it up again. And album closer “Cry” sums up everything nicely, combining slow and soulful with the hard edge that kept the whole record rolling. It’s a neat bow on top of a buzzy, smoke-filled record where musical influencers are celebrated and even idolized while still keeping contemporary sentimentalities to accent each track.

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The Hollow Roots. Photo courtesy of the artist. Used with permission.
The Hollow Roots. Photo courtesy of the artist. Used with permission.