By Mike O’Cull
Montreal-based hard rockers The Damn Truth turned in an impressive, emotive, and well-produced performance on the band’s Record Release Experiment livestream concert event June 9th, 2021. Done in the church called “L’Église Saint-Simon” in Drummondville, Quebec, Canada, the group channeled the spirits of every great crunchy, melodic rock song to ever grace the airwaves while putting its own modern spin on the concept of straight-up rock and roll. The gig featured songs from The Damn Truth’s recently released album Now Or Nowhere, which contains six songs produced by legendary Grammy Award-winning producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Aerosmith, Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, Tragically Hip) as well as selections from their previous two efforts Devilish Folk (2016) and Dear In The Headlights (2012). It was an outstanding night of true rock music from a tight four-piece outfit that clearly believes in every note and beat it plays.
The Damn Truth (Lee-la Baum (lead vocals/guitar), Tom Shemer (lead guitar/vocals), PY Letellier (bass/vocals) and Dave Traina (drums/vocals)) is one of those bands that has flown under the radar for far too long. In the group’s nine-year history, it has toured Europe, the USA, and Canada, opened for ZZ Top, The Sheepdogs, Styx, and Rival Sons, sold out the historic Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles and the Corona Theatre in their home base of Montreal. The music and vibe are all about the rock but carry a subtext of hippie-style peace and love that comes off as genuine and endearing. These four musicians deserve to be a lot more famous than they currently are and, listening to this show go down, one gets the feeling that a major come-up is imminent.
The Damn Truth performed this show directly to the cameras, without a live audience, and intercut bits of round-table discussion footage of the band members giving us some insights into the songs on the set list. It’s a great format that’s informative and also communicates a sense of who the players are as people. The concert kicked off with the anthemic rock and roll single “This is Who We Are Now”, the title track from their new album. The group went hard from the downbeat, mixing gravel-toned guitars with a driving confident groove that they topped with Lee-la Baum’s high-flying vocals. Baum is a more-than-potent singer as well as a boss rhythm guitarist who fronted the band with authority and grace.
The uplifting “Tomorrow” followed and sported an intro that gave fans an idea of what a Beatles and Guns N’ Roses collaboration might have been like. This led to a punching, edgy verse that, in turn, opened up into a spectacular hit-single chorus of the highest order. It’s the kind of song that used to break radios wide open and hit its target dead center. Guitarist Tom Shemer is a ripping, old-school lead player with a lovely melodic side and gave us a glimpse of his style in full effect here. It was obvious that this crew shares an incredible chemistry that holds it together but leaves each member free to fly.
“Only Love” flirted with vintage power pop jangle tactics blended with The Damn Truth’s rock and roll soul and provided Baum with another epic chorus in which to ply her trade. She and Shemer had their two-guitar approach locked down and raging, as well. Their tones and parts complimented each other perfectly and sounded absolutely huge together. Watching them was a clinic in the art of rock and roll.
The mid-tempo gem “Lonely” saw two backup singers expand the jam and they supported Baum with texture and taste. Shemer, clad completely in red, broke out with some scrumptious slide guitar work that added another layer of interest to this already-compelling bunch. One of the night’s best songs was the Kinks-inspired “Full On You.” It’s a brilliant power chord blaster with yet another incredible chorus vocal from Baum. She’s the singer every rock band dreams of having, in control of the kind of range and belt that would turn heads in any era. By this time in the show, you’ve also realized that the levels of songwriting prowess and instrumental work are both equal to her big-league voice and you’ve decided that The Damn Truth is your new favorite band.
By any measure, the night was a smashing success. The Damn Truth led fans through the best of their catalogue, showed major chops, flavor, and class, and had a whole lot of fun doing it all. Highlights of the set included “Broken Blues,” “Too Late,” and “Devilish Folk.” By the ferocious closing song “Heart Is Cold,” you know you’ve been properly rocked, rolled, amazed, and blown through the ceiling. The Damn Truth proved beyond a doubt that they’re as good a band as any that’s ever taken the stage. If you watched, you know. If you didn’t, be in the front row when they come to your town.
The Damn Truth embark on a February 2022 UK tour. For tour dates see here