Album Review : The Damn Truth – Now Or Nowhere

Review by Peter Coates –

Released – May 2021

Montreal-based rock band The Damn Truth have recently bubbled up from an underground presence with the release of their third album, Now Or Nowhere, mostly produced by the legendary Bob Rock who got heavily involved in the recording process by introducing the band to a range of vintage guitars and amps to tie in with the 1970’s attitude and live sound.

Described as a band channelling the authenticity of rock and roll and blues rock bands from the 60s and 70s with a contemporary edge, lead singer Lee-la Baum’s electrifying vocals are being compared to iconic female vocalists including Grace Slick, Beth Hart and Janice Joplin.

The album opens up with a powerful mix of classic and contemporary rock in This Is Who We Are Now which explodes out of the speakers with a blistering riff and backing track, and the most outrageous lead vocals from Lee-La Baum that put her right up as one of the top female rock vocalists of the decade.

Tomorrow provides more of the same, with a gritty retro guitar sound in the verse from Tom Shemer that is part Black Keys and Royal Blood before the chorus provides a rocking Americana hook that rolls along and demands a singalong! There are some cracking lead breaks before the final chorus that are interspersed with some great vocal gymnastics!

There is a delicate vocal / guitar opening to Only Love that leads into a wonderful verse and chorus that are catchy and commercial, and sees Shemer let rip yet again in the solo, and then go even further in the outro. The riff is a warm and familiar beast, but Lee-La adds something extraordinary through her voice and harmonies. The album gets a bit darker and bluesier with the crushing riffs of Lonely, and a vocal extravaganza that ranges from a snarl to a roar, and see the voice soaring all over the melody with immense power, before the guitar overdrives itself into an almost distorted howl, leading into a reprise of the intro – 2min 48s of intensity!

The dual vocal harmonies of Everything Fades brings a real retro feel to the track, and sees a really clean vocal line showing the variety of Lee-La’s voice. This is as close to a ballad as there is, and Dave Traina shows off his talents on the kit in the rumbling patterns and fills. This really could be early Joplin or Jefferson Airplane. Totally different is the thundering riff of The Fire, and the sensual moody voice that has real soul and grit to it, before the chorus which is astonishing in the vocal dexterity and power. Traina again excels on the kit, and Py Letterlier provides the rumbling bass line to support the twin assault of guitar and voice. This may be the signature track on the record! The guitar solo wailing over the grinding riff is a pearler.

The chaotic intro to Look Innocent settles down quickly to a mellow verse, which just serves to highlight the unique power and quality of Lee-La’s voice, and then builds up into a powerful chorus. The mid-section verse is a quirky insert, but regains the passion with the chorus – you can just imagine Lee-La onstage in a intense trance-like state as she delivers these unbelievable melodies.

Lots of guitars on Full On You which develops into an absolute scorcher with crackling effects and wailing licks, and blows out into another vocal / guitar battle, before album-closer Shot ‘Em kicks off with a nod to Stairway to Heaven in the guitar / keyboard intro and verses, and then blasts into another monster chorus, full of echoing guitars, frenetic drums, and yet more of that voice!

Where the band truly came into their own was on TikTok, gathering a whole new fan base through their imaginative cover-song videos and by opening their stream to fans’ requests.

“We were in serious performance withdrawal. After being on the road for years and being used to playing shows just about every night, it didn’t feel right to not be performing.” Lee-la says. “We set this goal for ourselves: to release a video a day for a month, or something like that. It gave us a purpose and it was fun to get dressed up, revisit some of our favourite rock songs, and be reminded of others once the suggestions started coming in. It was awesome to see the numbers go up and to get so much positive feedback from new fans all over the world. What we learned was, you’re going to find your tribe if you look hard enough. In so many ways, a rock ‘n’ roll tribe of love and community is something we can all be a part of, right here, right now.”

This is an outrageous and outstanding record from a band who demand attention – like Blues Pills crossed with Led Zep and with one of the best female voices you have ever heard!

The Damn Truth is:

“The production by the legendary Bob Rock capturing the essence of what the band have without damaging the humanness at its core. The drums thunder, the bass throbs, the guitar alone could wreak havoc to the solar system and the vocals of Lee-La Baum control the storm, a commanding presence over the hurricane.”
– Metal Planet Music

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Photo Credit: © Mikael Theimer