Chad Sullins and the Last Call Coalition “Incommunicado” (Smith Music Group)
With their new album “Incommunicado,” Chad Sullins and the Last Call Coalition color their red dirt sound with enough muscular blues to leave fans of the distinctly Oklahoma musical style a bit speechless.
The Stillwater quartet — lead singer/guitarist Sullins, lead guitarist Josh Rutz, drummer Jeremy Clark and bassist Jerry Stanley — boldly leave a mighty musical mark with their second full-length album, the follow-up to their debut “Uphill Battle” and acoustic EP “What’s Left of Me.” Their sophomore LP thrums with a gritty live energy that makes it perfect for cranking loud and powering through a long drive or boring day at the office.
Made primarily at 115 Recording in Norman, “Incommunicado” opens unassumingly enough with a minute-long “Intro” of handclaps, boot stomps and acoustic guitar strumming, but it’s almost as if the band can’t take that much mellow music, quickly kicking into take-no-prisoners blues-rock mode with the grinding rebel anthem “Scratch.”
Framed by unapologetic electric rock, Sullins boasts a gruff voice that growls effectively through the driving “Straight to Hell” with its pointed commentary on commercialism and class warfare and rasps appealingly on the rowdy drinking song “Thank God for Jack Daniels,” the album’s first single and one of only two tracks the frontman didn’t write.
But Sullins’ barroom-ready vocals soften nicely on the ballads, from the bluesy “Only Girl” to the acoustic “10 One 10.” He matches a hard-edged vulnerability with brawny, reverberating guitars and an insistent plonking piano on the scorching torch song “August Sun.”
Some of the top musicians on Oklahoma’s red dirt music scene make guest spots on the album, including Parker Millsap on resonator guitar, Randy Crouch on fiddle, Tony Pearce on harmony vocals, Jon Knudson of The Damn Quails on B3 organ and piano and Ryan Engleman of the Turnpike Troubadours on lap steel.
Red Dirt Ranger John Cooper plays mandolin and makes the dedication on the album highlight, an appropriately atmospheric “Backporch Style” rendition of red dirt legend Bob Childers’ “Dance with the Gypsies.” Sullins and his cohorts pair their rendition of the late godfather of red dirt music’s signature song with an original companion piece “Oklahoma Moon,” closing the album with a moodily restless air that will leave listeners craving more.
The band has several Oklahoma shows coming up, including Friday and Saturday at the Woodward Elks Rodeo, Sunday at the Red Barn in Enid and July 27 at Eskimo Joe’s in Stillwater. For more information, go to www.reverbnation.com/chadsullinsmusic.