The Blue Highways’ second album – Out On The Line – is released today (31st March 2023). Coming three years after their debut, they have mixed the sound they’re known for, whilst expanding their repertoire.
The record starts with their classic channelling of Bruce Springsteen – both Don’t Waste Your Prayers On Me and Nobody Lives Here Anymore have been heavily influenced by the Lury brothers’ love of The Boss. After this, things change.
Anyone who’s seen the guys live in the last few years will be familiar with Rio Grande and its brilliant five-minute guitar solo from Jack Lury at the start. The album version has a much shorter introduction, but with keyboards missing from the live version. Whilst this is a bit jarring at first, the more you listen the more you see that Callum’s decision to arrange the song differently for the record was a good one. It still has the great playing from Jack in the body of the song, and the emotion you get from the live version, without alienating those who don’t necessarily enjoy long guitar solos.
Another song you may recognise is Tonight, with an intro which seems to not fit with the song on first listen, but – as with all new things – you have to give them a chance. Tonight still sounds as good as it does live, and now you have the option to listen to it on demand. The intro is something you’ll get used to, and after a few listens you’ll forget it wasn’t there from the first time you heard them play Tonight live.
Another song you may recognise – if you have all their releases – is What’s A Man To Do. This was on their 2018 EP. The speed at which the song is played has been changed, along with other parts of the production – again, not to its detriment. Just make sure you give it a couple of listens before passing judgement.
The rest of the tracks are new – other than, of course, Out On The Line – which was released as a single. Callum’s inspiration for many of these songs seems to have been the rather depressing state of affairs in the Western world. From spousal abuse and not being safe walking home at night, to the illusion of the American dream. Not the happiest of topics, but these songs are up there with Thin Air and Have You Seen My Baby in the quality songs from The Blue Highways.
All in all, this is a great record, and one that was worth the three-year wait. The vinyl version includes a lyric sheet.
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