Guitarist Rich Robinson has pulled in Black Crowes alumni and other musicians he's previously worked with for The Magpie Salute's long awaited studio debut. The band have been around since 2016, selling out shows performing Black Crowes songs and solo material with a ten person line up. Spending time on the road has clearly primed their sound for the album.
With Robinson also acting as producer, High Water I has a clear focus on Americana, redolent of the classic rock period, although it's more AOR than your standard rock output. There's clear attention on creating textured arrangements and thoughtful lyrical content rather than on commercial friendly, riff heavy songs. Mary The Gypsy and Send Me An Open offer familiarity of the Black Crowes early on with a full on charge, but there is something more wholesome bubbling under the surface. As an album it's certainly a slow burner that shows a maturity of Robinson as a writer. Robinson and Marc Ford's impeccable guitar work bring in a feel of 70's era Rod Stewart and the Allman Brothers that heighten the mellow country overtones. John Hogg's adroit vocals are the epicenter of the album. From the bitter indie soul of Sister Moon to the Rolling Stonesesque Can You See and the semi-autobiographical Colorblind, he grounds the album in an understated way. The bookend of the album Open Up is an optimistic lead into Part II which is intended for a 2019 release.
The Magpie Salute can forget any hints of superstition that their name may suggest. High Water is packed with the sophisticated songs and bonhomie you'd expect from musicians of their caliber. There's sorrow and joy to be found within the album, but ultimately there can only be one outcome for a band of this quality.
Groupie Rating 4/5