Album Review: Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics – “The Man With Stars On His Knees”
As bass rumbles under drums beating a simple heavy beat of toms and snare, Aaron Buchanan softly sings one-to-one the burning question “Are you with me, or without?”. As the tension builds to a climactic crescendo of guitars and crashing drums he sings out his demand for the answer, “Show me what you’re made of!”, his voice big enough to fill a stadium. Album intros rarely get more epic, and this one sums up his new band’s large scale dynamics and ambitious modus operandi perfectly.
The songwriting throughout The Man With Stars On His Knees has a timeless quality, matched with a cool retro feel to the overall production that tempers a glorious seventies pomp with sprinkles of nineties Seattle grit. There are blasts of pure rock in All The Things You’ve Said And Done, Dancin’ Down Below, and The Devil That Needs You, and classy slow burners like the title track and A God Is No Friend. A dirty grind of a groove drives Left Me For Dead, and the fuzz driven stomp of Mind Of A Mute takes the sound to hypnotic psychedelic greatness. Morals wraps it all up with a swing, Mr Buchanan allowing his inner Mr Mercury to come to the fore in the verses.
Musically, this album shows The Cult Classics as a versatile band with a natural easy touch to their playing. As a platform for Aaron Buchanan’s voice, he surely can’t have wished for better. This is most apparent in the spine-tinglingly wonderful Journey Out Of Here. Showing his full range, from the heartfelt quiet of the verses and soaring uplifting choruses to the quite magnificent vocal dance with the guitar for the final two minutes, it is clear Aaron Buchanan has one of the best voices of his generation.
There’s enough hard rock on this album to please fans of his previous band, Heaven’s Basement, but this solo debut sees Aaron Buchanan stretching his musical wings to more experimental soundscapes that really allow his voice to shine.