EP Review: “White Oak & Kerosene,” Justin Allen and the Well Shots

White Oak & Kerosene is the title of the recently released EP by Justin Allen and the Well Shots (JAWS). Recorded in Nashville, the EP is billed as roots and roll/Americana/alt-country. Any of those terms come pretty close to describing the group’s style of music. What it is really is what used to be called Heartland Rock; only JAWS has spiced it up and updated it by infusing it with alternative country overtones. The resulting sound carries the flavors of Bruce Springsteen blended with John Mellencamp amalgamated with Van Morrison.

It’s very good stuff.

The EP has five tracks and all five are good. My favorite is “Feeling Alright,” a song rife with the influence of John Mellencamp. It starts strong and ramps up from there. A blistering guitar drives the melody and provides a scintillating solo. “Angelina,” a country rocker and the last track on the EP, delivers a blue-jeans-Stetsons-big-shiny-belt-buckles sound that hits the mark. Twangy, driving guitars and an upbeat tempo brand “Angelina” ready for lots of radio play.

In fact, there’s something about JAWS, some elusive, indefinable quality that says this group is destined for big things. The group’s sound, along with Justin Allen’s vocals, makes them prime candidates for popularity. Justin Allen’s voice isn’t great, but it is good; he demonstrates musical sense, and doesn’t overdo it, which is just what the doctor ordered. This, in combination with the strong melodies and champion guitar picking, projects a lively trait that makes for active but easy listening.

The members of JAWS are: Justin Allen: Vocals / Guitar / Songwriter; Alex Haddad: Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals; Chris Sanders: Drums; Kyle Wierzba: Bass. I don’t know how long they’ve played together, but the music is tight and the transitions are clean. This implies two possibilities. Either they’ve played with each other for years, or they are superb musicians, able to mesh with others seamlessly because of their talent.

And obviously their talents have been noticed by others. The group will appear on 1950 Clothing Company’s Weekly Facebook Live Concert at the end of March 2017; and “Angelina” is receiving lots of play on WVCP radio in Nashville.

What they need now is a full-length album. And I would guess that’s at the top of their list of things to do. Unless Justin Allen’s ability to compose songs mysteriously vanishes overnight, JAWS is definitely a group to keep an eye on. White Oak & Kerosene is a winner! I expect the group’s sophomore effort to be even better.

Remember, you heard it here first. These guys are fated for success.