Raven Cain is an Outlaw Country/Southern Rock musician from Virginia who now lives in Hurricane, Utah. Cain was raised in a religious cult, with an absent father and a stepfather who abused, poisoned, and almost killed him. Despite overwhelming odds, Cain managed to devote his life to his two passions, music and martial arts; he became a touring singer opening for acts such as Henry Rollins and LA Guns, and he is a 6th degree black belt. He's also a fully ordained Buddhist Priest and a direct blood descendant of the world's most notorious and infamous Pirate, Blackbeard! Cain recently signed with Atlantic Records and was previously with Universal.
Now this is all interesting stuff but back to the album; is it any good? Well, in a word hell-yeah.
Cain's first album Son of the South gained him notoriety as a powerful vocalist and talented songwriter. Oblivious is his second album, and it’s a real feel-good southern rock ‘n’ roll album. The album starts with the first single release 'Bad Boy', a song that is getting regular radio airplay across Europe and Cain is building a strong fanbase on the back of it. The track starts with a strong drum beat accompanied by some fantastically catchy riffs. In comes Cain, with his sprawling southern drawl telling us, in no uncertain terms, that he is the bad boy we are looking for, Ooh er! The lyrics aren't especially deep but they are fun and quite possibly very close to the truth… "my name is Raven Cain and I drink… whiskey by the gallon". A great start to the album and a great first single, this is a sound example of southern rock done well. Where's my cowboy hat?...
The next track is a more country-style ballad, 'My Addiction'. Throughout this song the guitar is simple yet brilliant and Cain's voice is smooth and seductive. 'Son of the South' is a tip of the hat to Cain's first album and proud Southern heritage. There is a real come back for this type of sound at the moment within the UK, well this is the real deal guys, not a kid from England. Again the guitars are solid, as is to be expected from Harrison, and the track has attitude (and a little mofo going on so mind the kids).
'One Foot in the Grave' is a cleverly-written sombre, moody track with a bluesy guitar solo. On first listening, this track didn't grab me but after a few plays I loved it. The intro to 'No Rest for the Wicked' is a little Quo-like for my liking but the track quickly becomes more country than rock, more hoedown than sweaty rock venue. A bit too clichéd for me, but enjoyable. 'Rebel City' goes back to good old classic southern rock, with strong vocals, great guitars and a spellbinding andante piano. At this point I should mention that the album has 20 tracks on it, we might be here a while but it'll be worth the ride.
'General Lee' - the name of the car in the TV show The Dukes of Hazzard - is harder and more rewarding than the name might suggest. The beat is unwavering. The lyrics get into your brain and won't budge. 'Plane to Utah' is a sumptuous track vocally and musically. Cain's voice is deep, husky and emotional. I love this track. It's not riotous but it is beautiful, passionate and stylish. Definitely one of the best on the album. 'All American Bad Ass' is an anthem - "we won't back down". Nuff said. 'Oblivious Bliss' has an awesome bass line and those thundering drums that I just love, with a rip-roaring guitar solo thrown in. Bliss indeed. This one will be on repeat!
'Antz Go Marching' starts like a nursery rhyme - "the antz go marching ten by ten…" - and turns into a thumping track. The lyrics are typically philosophical and relatable. 'House of Amazing Grace' sounds so much like 'House of the Rising Sun' by The Animals that I was singing the words to that and immediately had to get it up on YouTube once Cain had finished singing. Luckily I love both tracks.
'Loaded Gun' is another brilliantly bold rock track borne of the Deep South, more textured than some of the others on the album, and with a funkier guitar. The lyrics are what you'd expect - cowboys, loaded guns - In my opinion the best on the album, this is special but I can't pinpoint exactly why. The whole experience of this song is greater than its individual parts. I'll be singing it for days. I would maybe have placed it higher up the track list than 18 but that's my only criticism. 'Scars' is poignant and soulful, and has a different, more modern sound; it's sophisticated, highly listenable, and again so relatable. Stunning seems such an inadequate word.
The album closes with 'Shove It' - "take your job and shove it!" how many of us have wanted to shout this out loud at some point. A fun and buoyant end to a rich and well-crafted album. There are a few album filler tracks; 'DTA' (which starts with a sports-like commentary that does nothing for me to be honest but then I'm a British woman not an American man), 'Outlaw Way', and 'I'll Be Back'- all good songs but nothing exceptional. You can hear some of the influences throughout the album, for example 'Hell Yeah' reminds me of Lynard Skynard (Sweeeeet Home Al-a-bama! - I know you just sang that…), and 'Cause I Lived It' is very Hank Williams. It's quite an eclectic album with rock, country, the 60s, and a little blues in the mix. On the whole, I think I'll add this to my collection for those rainy Saturday afternoons when you just want to curl up with some great music and a hot toddy.
Producer and guitar player - Tommy Harrison
Piano and organ - John Houston
Son of the South
One Foot in the Grave
No Rest for the Wicked
Plane to Utah
All American Bad Ass
Antz Go Marching
Cause I Lived It
House of Amazing Grace
I'll Be Back