It has all shaken out as it should have, though, and the current lineup — led by husband and wife Jared and Jacy Deck — has created the band’s best work to date.
Bound for Glory is an undeniably Southern-sounding record, laying tracks across dusty plain romances (“Pyre in the Blood”), swampy pop ballads (“Hall of Mirrors”), honky-tonk dance floor favorites (“Hoorah at the Hi De Ho”) and Midwestern fist-pumping rock anthems (“Give Me Liberty”), all precisely executed with a charming ease and authenticity.
The best moments, though, are the ones that blur those lines, as GCR does in the vivid, swelling “I’m Alive,” a triumphant rally cry shouted with the sort of grandiose, theatrical energy you’d likely associate more with the likes of Arcade Fire. “Original Sin/The Truth” operates in a similar mode, reading like the Sooner State response to Reflektor.
“Hard Timin’ Monopolizin’ Blues” is another standout, steering its way out of Youth & Young Manhood-era Kings of Leon before veering even deeper into the backwoods, opening up into a near-Jack-White-worthy guitar bridge.
From first note to last, Bound for Glory fulfills the promise of the title — it’s a consistently invigorating journey through the history of Southern music and back again.
Bound for Glory is available now on iTunes. — Joshua Boydston