The Magpie Salute are back with their second full-length release, High Water II, and, like the name implies, it is a continuation of the sound from the group's debut album, High Water. That's not a bad thing at all when one considers the sound is very reminiscent of that of the Black Crowes - bluesy southern and hard rock trading in equal parts Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Faces, and Steve Marriott - and not a surprise considering three of the band's members, including guitarists Rich Robinson and Marc Ford, were members of the Crowes.
The album opens with "Sooner Or Later," an edgy, psychedelic rocker with a gritty lead vocal from singer John Hogg. The band shows off its guitar chops in this powerhouse track. The driving rock of "Gimme Something" follows with a slinky guitar riff that recalls the Rolling Stones' "Bitch". Hogg gives a strong vocal and the song's chorus is infectious. One could easily hear this on a Black Crowes album.
On "Leave It All Behind," the band alternates between a potent groove that sounds like a continuation of "Gimme Something" and a heavy, Zeppelin-like riff. The song is a highlight on a disc full of them. The group slows down the tempo on "In Here," a song that recalls the Stones' "Loving Cup" in its choruses. With an excellent vocal from Hogg, it shows the band as equally adept at mid-tempo songs as it is rockers. The track also features Matt Holland on horns.
Alison Krauss guests on vocals and fiddle on "Lost Boy," a country-tinged acoustic number that is more in her wheelhouse, but one The Magpie Salute handles well. On "Doesn't Really Matter," the group locks into a tight funk groove while Hogg delivers an edgy vocal and the band slows the pace on the heavy blues of album closer "Where Is This Place?", finishing the proceedings in fine fashion.
The group may wear their influences on their sleeve, but the songs never sound derivative. With strong songwriting, powerful vocals and excellent musicianship, The Magpie Salute have another winner on their hands with High Water II.