(Photo Credit: Sameer Jafar)
Advance Review - The Blue Stones: Hidden Gems (March 19, 2021)
The Blue Stones are back and better than ever with their sophomore album Hidden Gems out March 19th, 2021. It’s been a few years since we were blessed with Black Holes back in 2018 but they released a slew of singles between then and now that served as an incredible buildup for this shiny loud new album. The album was produced by Paul Meany, known for his work with the likes of Twenty One Pilots and LANY, who got a whiff of what Tarek Jafar and Justin Tessier were creating and was immediately on board. Under Meany’s guidance, these boys unlocked a new level of their creativity and it shows in the ten songs they’ve polished and gifted to us.
This album will hit you with the bluesy rock right out of the gate. I was always a fan of Black Holes but I was pleasantly surprised that Hidden Gems has a whole new vibe and sound than their debut album. The confidence and passion comes pouring through the speakers with the very start of the first song “Lights On” which has to be hands down my favorite song on the album. The song is honest and confident and bold and really sets a tone for the rest of the album. Hidden Gems sees the blues-rock duo grow into their unique sound both lyrically and musically. The songs on Hidden Gems are by far more instrumentally technical than we saw on their previous album, while Jafar’s lyrical genius still shines through, having grown and evolved in its storytelling.
Five songs on the album were released as singles over the production process, and they do a great job of showcasing and setting the precedent for their new effort. “Shakin’ Off The Rust'' is bright, bold, and loud; a song that reintroduces The Blue Stones as a force to be reckoned with. It oozes a message of renewed confidence, and after the year we’ve all had it was a joy to listen to a perfectly crafted pick-me-up song. I’m a big fan of “Careless” with its R&B and pop aspects, a soft spoken song I find myself grooving in place to. It’s unlike anything we’ve heard from the duo before but they absolutely nailed it. Their most recent single “Spirit” is rock’n’roll at it’s finest in 2021. I’m a big fan of the vocals on this song; I like the hollow echoing quality that blends well with the eerie technical guitar and upbeat drumming. The other singles are all an incredible first taste of their new album but they definitely saved the best for last.
Hidden Gems is aptly named, in my opinion, because every song on the album is an absolute gem. “One by One” lyrically captures a hopeless energy we’ve all been feeling in the past year. “Make This Easy” is a heartbreaking number that slows down just when you expect it to speed up and it's a pleasant surprise every time I listen. It recalls the blues roots that brought the old-soul duo into the spotlight to begin with. “Oceans” is all yearning and honesty and staccato beats. And let's not forget the jazzy/poppy number “LA Afterlife,” the obligatory song about a pretty girl that reminds us of LA.
I think I like the album so much because each song goes where I did not expect it to go. To say The Blue Stones broke their own mold with this one is an understatement. The entirety of the album shows how the duo grew into their own sound and carved out a space for themselves in many different genres. The duo tore down walls around well defined genres and created for themselves and their fans a beautiful blend of soul, R&B, pop, rock’n’roll, and blues. Rules are meant for breaking and The Blue Stones threw the rule book out the window on this one. Hidden Gems is out March 19 and you would be remiss to not give it a listen.
Rating - 4.5/5