Pageant Archive: Opal Hill Drive

Album: Opal Hill Drive
Artist: Opal Hill Drive
Label: Independant, 2008
Reviewer: Shauna Brock

Track List:
1. Opal Hill Drive
2. Damage Done
3. The Past
4. Something’s Wrong
5. I Don’t Wanna die
6. Table for Two
7. Taking Its Toll
8. What Age Brings
9. Lil Miss Do No Wrong
10. Listening
11. Baby Blue
12. Everything

Just when you start to feel like there will never be as fantastic a time in music again as when Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles were ruling the airwaves, a small band out of Utah comes along to change everything.

Opal Hill Drive, a seven piece band consisting of Miles Crocket on piano, Doug Tolman on bass, Jason Dowdle on lead guitar, Joe Woodward on rhythm guitar, the father/daughter team of Dru Gilbert on drums and Maddy Gilbert on lead vocals, and Jeddie Duffey on lead vocals and rhythm guitar has emerged with a bang from Salt Lake City. Billing themselves as good, classic rock, it’s easy to think that they’re trying to simply capitalize on the sound so many of us cut our baby teeth on. But, take one listen at a show or to their self-titled debut CD and all of those ideas fly right out the window. Owning a sound that is obviously inspired from the classic country and rock bands of the seventies, they bring their own twist on the genre and creates a sound that is Western but hardly Country. The group brings an instant sense of the Western mentality that is shaped by high mountains, homey valleys, sweeping plains, salt deserts, and the blue collar attitude that is a part of every day life in the world West of the Rockies. Songs such as “Opal Hill Drive” and “I Don’t Want to Die” speak of daily sacrifice, hard work, and an understanding that life keeps moving even while, at times, we seem to stand completely still.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the group is the achingly haunting voice of lead vocalist Maddy Gilbert. Her smooth, clear vocals bounce beautifully off the scratchy voice of co-lead Jeddie Duffey. Maddy’s voice is daring and confident and she takes control of the songs with the same ability as her predecessors Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie. She shines through on each song and despite how easy it is to get lost in a band as large as Opal Hill Drive, she carries the group with confidence on her small shoulders. And, as time goes on, it is clear her vocal skills will get even stronger.

While each song on the album is a treat for the ears, highlights definitely include “What Age Brings,” “Baby Blue,” and the heartbreaking “Table for Two.”

Over the course of the album, Opal Hill Drive proves they are as capable of beautiful guitar solos on songs such as “Damage Done” as much as they are hard rockin’ vocals on pieces like “Taking Its Toll.” And while it is easy to dismiss “local” bands, there is no question as to their passion to create quality music. The album is beautifully mastered and it is hard to believe that it is a small, independent production; it leaves questions as to the professionalism of this small, “local” band.

If this is just the beginning, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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