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The Red Clay Strays’ Moment of Truth – An Album Review by Tom “Doc” Leytham

by Tom “Doc” Leytham
“A Longtime Fan of the Band”

The Red Clay Strays have released their debut album, Moment of Truth, and one would be hard pressed to find a more aptly named production. These young musicians from “Lower Alabama” have played together for the better part of five years wowing their fans with original music that gets you on the first listen. Or maybe “you get it” is a more appropriate description. It’s hard to say what their specific genre is. Is it country rock or bluesy country or funky Americana or rockabilly gospel? It’s hard to put your finger on this multi-talented band’s style.

What isn’t hard to say is that the vocals by Brandon Coleman are astounding. The first time you hear him can be as startling as if you saw Bigfoot skydiving out of a UFO during a lightning storm. At moments he sounds as gruff and mysterious as Johnny Cash; then as smooth and soulful as Ray Charles and then goes from a slow gospel pace to a rockabilly rhythm like he’s Jerry Lee Lewis covering “Love Me Tender” or Elvis covering “Great Balls of Fire”. The more you listen, the more you are entertained. You may even catch a hint of Willie or Waylon mixed in his vocals. Brandon’s voice is a mixture of great American troubadour sounds which always leaves the listener wanting more.

Another attribute of this five piece band which is fairly easy to expound upon is the songwriting. The “wordsmithing” of Drew Nix, Matthew Coleman and other contributors (Note: Matthew writes for the band, but does not perform with them) presents a dozen all original songs that lay bare the full spectrum of human emotion: from the joy of finding the perfect counterpart (“Wondering Why”) to the despair of losing them (“Do Me Wrong”); from the exultation of finding faith (“Sunshine”) to the despair of loss (“Don’t Care”). As if that weren’t enough, there are also upbeat showstoppers like “She’s No Good” and “Doin’ Time” and thought provoking stories like “Killers” and “Forgive”.

This band has a tight straightforward sound with excellent highlights provided by Brandon Coleman on keyboards, Zach Rischel on slide and lead guitar, Andy Bishop on bass, Drew Nix on rhythm guitar and John W. Hall on drums and percussion. The result of this album is a live vibe which does not sacrifice authenticity for the sake of seeking a pop audience.

If you harken back to the days of taking the plastic off of a vinyl album and putting the needle down on Side A: Track 1, you’d have to do some research to find a rock or country album from anytime in the last number of years that is as good a set as the first six songs on this album. That is, unless you figuratively flip the album over and put the needle down on Side B: Track 1 for the next six songs on Moment of Truth.

I’m already looking forward to their second album.



About the writer: Tom “Doc” Leytham contributed the article “A Pair of Delcos by The Dashboard Light” to The Southland Music Line in April of 2021. He is a physician in Mobile, AL and also an accomplished singer-songwriter. He is one of The Red Clay Strays’ most loyal fans and has been following them since they arrived on the scene.

In 2020, The Red Clay Strays were named Music Artist of the Year at The Southland Music Line.

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