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A Distant Call

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The follow-up to 2017's vintage Pontiac Firebird-shaking Need to Feel Your Love, A Distant Call sees the classic rock-loving Philadelphians looking inward and adding some new sonic flourishes to their arsenal. "Hell Yeah!" declares powerhouse vocalist Tina Halladay on the raucous opener "Steel Sharpens Steel," a four-minute slab of righteous Kiss and Thin Lizzy worship that would've felt right at home on Need to Feel Your Love. "Blood from a Stone" and "Untold Manifest" follow suit, but there's a modicum of unease simmering underneath all of the summery muscle car licks and earworm melodies. Those dark undercurrents snap into focus on "Hardly to Blame," an overcast power pop gem that parses through the wreckage of a breakup via stately guitarmonies, Cheap Trick-inspired riffage, and Halladay's cautionary refrain of "I tried to love ya/I tried to tell ya/ tried, I tried, I tried." The band takes on socialism ("Chopping Block"), economic hardship ("Blood from a Stone"), heartbreak ("Worth the Tears"), and the convoluted grief of losing an abusive parent ("Cold Sword") with equal parts moxie and solemnity. The emotional heft of it all is often tempered by the feel-good sonic attack with which that darkness is reckoned with, but the aptly named A Distant Call is fixated on the interminable space between the haves and the have nots, and how shared experiences -- and amps that go to eleven -- can act like a magnet, bringing us all into the same orbit. These are songs that make you want to roll the windows down, light up a smoke, and pound the dashboard in agreement.

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