Album of the Week: Joel Stoker's 'The Undertow'
When Joel Stoker, the frontman of The Rifles, introduced his debut solo track, 'My Own War,' fans were in for a surprise. Instead of the raucous mod-ish rock 'n' roll that defined his band's sound, he delved into soulful, reflective Americana. The result? An exceptional journey that has earned him accolades from Gigwise, This Feeling, Northern Transmissions, and The Indie Masterplan. Now, as a preview to his upcoming debut solo album, 'The Undertow,' set for release on September 1st, Joel unveils his latest gem, 'Walls Fall.'
As the mesmerizing opening track of 'The Undertow,' 'Walls Fall' immediately sets the tone for what's to come. With soulful and contemplative lyrics like "Your heart is close to breaking, it aches on every beat," Joel guides us through a hypnotic soundscape of acoustic guitars and pizzicato strings. This song also introduces a recurring theme on the album: the importance of men expressing their inner struggles and vulnerabilities rather than masking them with bravado.
Joel explains, "Walls Fall serves as the cornerstone of the album. It sets the premise for the entire record - the idea that even when life presents challenges, we must keep moving forward. This song was the first one I completed, even before I decided to make an album. It paved the way for the others, all addressing the same subject matter."
As with the rest of 'The Undertow,' 'Walls Fall' is a testament to Joel's creative genius. He not only wrote and produced the song but also recorded vocals, backing harmonies, lead guitar, bass, and percussion. Drummer Brendan O'Neill and Rifles pianist Dean 'Deano' Mumford added their magic, and the album's cinematic atmosphere was enhanced with brass and string arrangements.
'Walls Fall' and 'My Own War' offer a glimpse into the profound experience that 'The Undertow' promises to be. This record doesn't hold back; it candidly explores Joel's personal battles with OCD, anxiety, and mental health against a backdrop of intimate songs infused with a '70s warmth reminiscent of artists like Bob Marley, Fleetwood Mac, Dexys, Arcade Fire, and Michael Kiwanuka. These songs emerged during lockdown, as Joel found solace in his home studio, unlocking emotions he had never fully explored before.
Order 'The Undertow' are available HERE offering various bundles with options like CD, transparent blue or clear vinyl, signed prints, and exclusive t-shirt designs. A limited run of signed test pressings sold out almost instantly, indicating the high anticipation for this soul-baring masterpiece. 'The Undertow' is set to redefine sound and vulnerability, making it a must-listen album of the year.