Knoxville, Tennessee’s the Dirty Guv’nahs have a classic Southern rock feel that sounds a lot like the Black Crowes, or maybe the Rolling Stones, if the Stones had stopped dead at Exile on Main St. That throwback Southern sound, which the Guv’nahs do really well, is both a blessing and a curse on the band’s third album and first national release, Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies. The best of the songs here, like the joyous opener, “Can You Feel It,” the, well, charming “Good Luck Charm,” and the solid “Temptation,” sound almost frozen out of time, like prized outtakes from some long lost Stones or Black Crowes album project, and with lead singer James Trimble’s soulful, emotional vocal approach, they’d fit right in to the set list of either of those earlier bands. Not that the Dirty Guv’nahs are a nostalgia act, or a tribute band, but a kind of facsimile frozen in a bottle out of time in the 21st century, representing and re-creating a classic Southern rock sound without expanding it or taking it anywhere new. Again, that’s both good news on Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies, and it’s bad news. The good songs are timeless facsimiles that float out of another era’s memory, while the rest of the album’s tracks, while well built, recorded, and sung, seem like forgettable, hazy clichés from 30 years ago. the Dirty Guv’nahs are a good band, and they’re dynamite live, but perhaps they need to take what they do so well and take a sharp left turn with it into some truly new and original territory. They have the chops to do it.
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