Single review: The Bayonets feat. Steven Tyler – Vagabond Soul

Featuring a screaming backing vocal from Areosmith legend Steven Tyler, The Bayonets’ third single Vagabond Soul is a combination of all of lead singer Brian Ray’s musical roots, mixing early Jimi Hendrix with a little Otis Redding and some mid-seventies Stones.

Whereas Sucker For Love and Smartphone were criminally infectious poppy rock songs, Vagabond Soul drips with a soulful class. The third single to be released was originally going to be the rocky Whatcha Got, premiered during The Bayonets mini-tour of Argentina, however plans change and Vagabond Soul was selected to be the next single. An unexpected but welcome respite before the rocking resumes.

Brian worked and performed alongside Etta James for many years early in his career, and it is clear that some of her sugary soulful magic rubbed off on him. Vagabond Soul could quite easily be something hidden away in the Etta James archives, penned by the diva but never recorded. But it isn’t …it’s something new. Sure, it has the modern edge but it’s roots are firmly set in the years of life and music experience of it’s composers.

Starting out with just vocals and electric guitar (and a plaintive french horn à la The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want intro), the lyrics are starkly introspective, personal and reflective, with Brian taking us through his life journey, from seeing his father give up on his dreams right up to finding himself on stage infront of thousands of people and beyond.

The full band soon kicks in, including a refined brass section, which, instead of overpowering the song, reinforces the rhythmical inflections of the melody. Also, from a muso’s point of view, the time signature switch during the chorus is a nice addition, changing from a toe-tapping 4/4 to a pent up 3/4 waltz before sliding seamlessly back into the original time signature.

Another thing that makes Vagabond Soul stand out from its predecessors is the augmentation of the cast: As well as the core trio of Brian Ray, Oliver Leiber and Lucrecia Lopez Sanz, bass duties are handled by Davey Faragher (Elvis Costello), cameoing on keys is Adam MacDougall (Black Crowes), and last but not least creating the brilliant brass section are Darrell Leonard on trumpet, Robert A. Martin on tenor saxophone and French horn, and Joe Sublett baritone saxophone.

And then there is Aerosmith legend Steven “The Demon of Screamin’” Tyler’s contribution. As well as adding his unique backing and harmony vocals, he also busts out a bluesy harmonica solo as the song draws to a close.

Together they create something quite understatedly striking. Whereas the smaller cast involved in the first two singles really let go and rocked out in order to let the world know The Bayonets were here, the extended cast has stepped back, took stock of the situation, and approached Vagabond Soul with a lighter touch, doing what must be done to create the most timeless single to date.

Vagabond Soul is sassy, brassy and a whole lot of classy…and it shows The Bayonets are not just a one trick pony.

It is available as an MP3 download to buy from www.thebayonets.comwww.brianray.com and iTunes. You can also get The Bayonets’ smash hit debut single Sucker For Love and followup rocker Smartphone from these places too!  There are also brand new, super soft and rockingly retro Bayonets T-shirts available via their store, so be sure to pop by there too!

You can find out more about the band by visiting The Bayonets’ Wikipedia page.

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