Album Review – Joe Stamm Band’s “Wild Man”

With uncommonly great songwriting, and a serious rock n’ roll attitude only tempered by sincere and welcomed country music interludes, The Joe Stamm Band from central Illinois casts a wide net of appeal that captures most anyone with any sense of taste who falls within earshot. It’s Midwest country rock that already enjoys incredible buy-in from their current fans, and is ripe for striking a national chord.

Joe Stamm and his cohorts are no newcomers. They’re marking 10 years of grinding it out on the road and releasing songs in 2023. They’ve also been on Saving Country Music’s radar for quite some time now, finding some love on playlists and the occasional mention here and there. But unlike some bands and artists that start to fade a decade into the business, The Joe Stamm Band feel like they’re just now hitting their stride.

If there has been any hesitation with featuring the Joe Stamm Band on a country outlet in the past, it’s because they’re fair to call a rock band first. And to be frank, their earlier output could display some inconsistency in between more stellar moments. But now they feel like they’re firing on all cylinders, staying hungry and challenging themselves in a challenging environment where so much attention is focused these days on Appalachia, East Nashville, and Red Dirt/Texas.

It was just a few weeks ago that the band released an EP called Fort Smith. It included an excellent song on it called “Wrong Side of Town” that might have been Joe Stamm’s best yet. Now he’s besting himself again with a host of songs on Wild Man, which delves super heavy into character exploration and storytelling, wile not shirking this band’s signature instrumental attack, giving guitarist Dave Glover ample opportunities to discharge his adrenaline and prove his prowess.

The opening title track is a good one, but comes with echoes of the grunge era of rock the may make a roots fan wonder if they’ve taken a wrong turn. But it only takes until the second song called “My Old Home” for a country fan to see what all the fuss is about. It’s like Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me,” but for those who live in the real world.

Wild Man really hits home by exploring personalities that get stuck in life’s ruts like we all do from the adverse things that weigh us down. But instead of passing judgement, songs like “The Day Before” about a drunk at a bar, “Old Man” about an elderly man that life has passed by, and “Listen” about a self-destructive type take a deeply poetic approach to trying to explain why life gets the best of some of us.

Joe Stamm’s writing might reach its peak use of perspective with the pretty stunning and entertaining “Dollar General Sign,” encapsulating small town American life in the way so many singer and songwriters try to do, but often fail at from falling for tropes instead of the true orientation of things. And all along the way, bass player Bruce Moser and drummer Tim Kramp join guitarist Dave Glover in bringing these songs to life in a way that’s engaging beyond the lyricism.

They call it Black Dirt Country Rock, making reference to their brethren in the Red Dirt regions south of their home that have been naming their music after the hue of the soil for years. The Joe Stamm Band don’t really fit into any scene distinctly. But instead of grousing about it, they’ve decided to get good enough to start their own. If they keep releasing albums like Wild Man, they very well just might.

1 3/4 Guns Up (8.3/10)

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