Review: The Georgia Thunderbolts – Can We Get A Witness
Mascot Records (October 15th 2021)
Reviewer: David Pearce
‘Can We Get a Witness‘ is the debut album from new Southern Rock band, The Georgia Thunderbolts. They are a five-piece band from Rome, Georgia near the foot of the evocative Appalachian Mountains. Consisting of lead vocalist T J Lyle, guitarists Riley Couzzourt and Logan Tolbert, bassist and keyboard player Zach Everett and drummer Bristol Perry. (Just an aside. Why is the drummer nearly always mentioned last in the group line-up?!) They are the spiritual airs of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet, but they also mention Hank Williams as an influence. So, let’s see if The Georgia Thunderbolts whip up a storm with their first full length album!
‘Take it Slow‘ explodes out of the speakers with a heavy metal style guitar intro that leads straight into T J Lyle’s frankly awesome vocals that to me have echoes of Ian Gillan. What a voice! The song itself is a no-nonsense rock song that shows how much power these Thunderbolts pack. It is one of the best opening songs I have heard on an album in ages. ‘Lend a Hand‘ is just Southern Rock at its purest with a brilliant bassline from Everett that is supported by some blistering drumming from Perry and great guitar work by Couzzourt and Tolbert. As for Lyle, he proves that there is another side to his vocal style with smoothness to go along with his raw power.
‘So You Wanna Change the World‘ could easily be a Lynyrd Skynyrd song with its more laidback tune and subtle vocals which really reminded me of the music the scout camp staff used to play when I went over to Florida in the mid-80s as a much younger man and all of a sudden, I was back there! ‘Lookin’ for an Old Friend‘ starts with a gorgeous guitar solo and builds up into a song that has hints of early Elton John in places and the Eagles in the chorus. This is the sound of a multi-dimensional band and the range of influences they have are a big part of that.
‘Spirit of a Workin’ Man‘ is appropriately heavy and unfussy to start with, and in the blistering chorus, but it has time for a lovely counterpoint that underpins the tune and really gives it an interesting vibe. ‘Midnight Rider‘ will be a fantastic song live that has a proper singalong chorus and a superb guitar solo. ‘Be Good to Yourself‘ just conjures up a Southern Bar room on a Saturday night as Lyle gives you a great recipe for the life you want to live. Again, it’s something that you can imagine Elton singing in his early 70s pomp as it has more than an element of Texan Love Song. That said, vocally speaking Lyle makes the song more of a heavy hitter with his range and power.
‘Half Glass Woman‘ just put me in mind of ZZ Top with the intro but once again Lyle sets the song apart with his powerhouse performance. ‘Dancing with the Devil‘ is a country rock classic in the making and it is one of my three favourite tracks on the album with its great bass and drumming to give the vocals the launchpad to soar. ‘Can I Get a Witness‘ is almost the title track and it gives the listener a real 1-2 punch of quality coming straight after ‘Dancing with the Devil‘. This is going to absolutely rock when they play it live, make no mistake. What a song like this demonstrates is that when all five members of a band are absolutely at the top of their game, a kind of musical alchemy takes place.
The final three songs start with ‘Walk Tall Man‘ that combines Johnny Cash life advice with crunching guitars to great effect. ‘It’s Alright‘ is just an absolute joy to listen to. You can pretty much hear the smiles on the faces of the band, and it leaves the listener with a broad grin. I would love to hear this one live, probably as the encore to get everyone singing as they go out of the venue. It just shades it as my favourite song on the album and it is one of my favourite rock tracks of the entire year. The final track is ‘Set Me Free‘, which has one hell of a job to finish the album on a high after the previous 12! It is a 7-minute epic that is pretty much the equivalent of The Georgia Thunderbolts saying, ‘OK, bring it on!’ as they show that they can hit the heights with a softer rock style.
This album proves that lightning can strike more than twice as they nail every song and produce at least three absolute classics. As an album from an experienced set of musicians it would be outstanding, as a debut album it is almost lightning in a bottle, but these Thunderbolts will, I am sure, be able to follow this up with more brilliant work. I have reviewed some great albums this year and I am definitely happy to witness that this matches up to absolutely any of them. The Georgia Thunderbolts certainly light up the rock sky!