It says a lot that, when the swathes of retro-rock bands relating on a fleeting moment of zeitgeist to strike have fallen away, Dorothy have remained standing. It could be as simple as them being just a better band (which they are), but peeling back the layers, it seems to run a lot deeper than that. There’s noise here coming from more sources than just blinkered rock publications whose taste hasn’t advanced past the late ‘70s; when it catches the ear of a source as huge as Rolling Stone, and encourages Jay-Z to sign them to Roc Nation, this is more than a flash in the pan. That was put forth on 2018’s 28 Days In The Valley, but Gifts From The Holy Ghost feels even more crystallised in that sentiment. Maybe not to a world-conquering extent that’s been bestowed upon them just yet—a result of that traditionalist rock streak that’s hard to shake, unfortunately—but it’s far and away among the best example of how to do this sort of thing right. They hit a winner right out of the gate with frontwoman Dorothy Martin, who really does deserve the band’s pseudonymous top billing when there’s this much expressiveness and power. The comparisons to Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale might be inevitable given Martin’s vocal timbre, but there’s a whiskey-swilling classicism that ultimately differentiates them; it isn’t better or worse, just a different flavour that’s appreciated. It feeds into the swagger of Beautiful Life and Hurricane or the depths-of-the-earth power on Black Sheep, performances that need a commanding mouthpiece to get the most from them, and get every bit of that here. It says a lot that it elevates the classic rock generalities that admittedly do comprise a good amount of the album, though laced with a triumph that’s hard to deny the gravity and reality of.
That largely proves the catalyst for make this classic blues-rock style as exciting as most ultimately want it to be. Where some will treat it as a free pass to appreciation from rock’s old heads, Dorothy treat it with a lot more reverence. It’s what creates the sizzle in Big Guns and Top Of The World, or the absolute barnstormer of a groove that ripples through Hurricane. Rarely does this throwback style sound a red-blooded as Dorothy make it, only really dipping on Close To Me Always in how swooping and swaying it is, and where the Greta Van Fleet-esque anaemia is more dominant. That’s far less frequent than previous standards would dictate though, and even if the pockets that Dorothy will slide into don’t scratch a particular classic rock itch (i.e. some of the more Led Zeppelin-leaning moments towards the end like the title track), they’re being launched into a full velocity. There’s a heat in the production that proves imperative in those results, making the guitars louder and full—seriously, those little clean embellishments on Beautiful Life’s chorus singlehandedly make that track near-untouchable—and highlight a rhythm section that’s pleasingly pronounced. As far as being just a solid, no-frills rock band goes, Dorothy are pretty much there on all fronts and from all angles. It can’t really be stressed how uncommon that is, when the throwback scene has been suffocated with numerous blank, faceless nobodies, of which Dorothy are the complete antithesis of. On the basis of just embracing their scene and influences really damn well, there are no bones about endorsing Gifts From The Holy Ghost, especially in the circles more actively responsive to this sort of thing. For them, this is a potential album of the year candidate right here.
For fans of: Led Zeppelin, Halestorm, Rival Sons
‘Gifts From The Holy Ghost’ by Dorothy is released on 22nd April on Roc Nation.
Words by Luke Nuttall