Colin Stough - Lookin' For Home

19 Recordings/BMG Nashville


Despite the fact he’s still a few weeks away from turning the big 2-0, Colin Stough comes across with a genuinely knowing perspective on this follow-up to last year’s PROMISELAND debut. Blessed with a one-of-a-kind voice that cuts through the atmosphere like a sharp blade, Colin sings the kind of soul-baring songs that stick with you, compelling you to turn them up louder and louder and belt them out alongside him. Gaining third place in American Idol series 21 kickstarted the Mississippi-born singer-songwriter-guitarist’s career two years ago. Since then, he’s toured extensively across America and racked up almost 20 million global on-demand streams. Coming musically from somewhere between the Mississippi Delta, Macon, Georgia and the Louisiana swamplands, all infused with elements of southern rock, soul, r&b, and country traditions, mashed with some gutbucket blues and jangly rock. Turn up the heat, bring to a boil, then let it simmer ’til it gets good and crusty. That’s the recipe for this batch of co-penned songs, baked on the road, by this talented youngster.

These six songs are jubilant explorations through life; the good, the bad and the ugly. With a gritty attitude and raw honesty, he tackles romantic themes of heartbreak, weekend getaways, drinking and the lure of home. These bruisers flow nimbly through crushing burners and blistering barroom blues howlers with equally devastating precision. That woozy, soulful voice enriched with honeyed rasp and honed singing gospel in church as a child, gets you firmly in its grasp from the opening notes and doesn’t let up for even a minute in Amen. A heartfelt nod to Southern tradition, he reminisces of home with an earnest passion as he pays tribute to the local fixtures—Sunday morning church, the red dirt backroads, the familiar faces—as he sits in a bare, lonely hotel room in in some faceless city. A cautionary tale with a different take on alcoholic reliance, Sober is a yield of slow-burning, swampy blues and pained vocals in a heartbreak moan of a song. He’s unafraid to shed tears in his beer, and the anguish and heartache form a consistent thread that never drifts far from the surface as a slippery guitar slides every which way in the background.

He shows vulnerability with the smoother Makes Two Of Us, a song full of longing and hope. Melodic guitar lays out a delicate touch as layered electric guitars and a swelling background chorus builds confidently alongside his catchy vocal lines. The powerful Outside Looking In, takes a different look at the cheatin’ scenario with some more dynamic guitar lines. Pair that sound with his strong, emotional lead vocals, and the overall result is straight-ahead mash. He closes with the title song, serving up a hard-edged feel with pulsating drumming. A taught, simmering roots-rock song, blessed with singalong chorus and a punk edge to it, which brings comparisons ranging from 1980s-era Bruce Springsteen to the heartland heroics of John Mellencamp. Full of integrity, independent spirit and a great voice, Colin Stough, with his impressive mix of heart and head, is destined for a long-lasting career. Anytime you come across him layin’ down a soulful puddle, make sure you splash some on you for a mighty satisfying healing feeling.

June 2024