The Krew’s “To Hell With You” is as complete of a band performance as you can hope for. Singer/songwriter Jhonny K has written a superb lyric that might have proven wordy for a lesser singer. K, instead, cuts loose with an inspired vocal deftly handling the song’s extended lines, wealth of detail, and locking in with the song’s arrangement with a romping confidence that few peers or contemporaries share. He takes a turn of phrase from every day conversation and weaves it into a lyric full of character and conflict that strikes a perfect balance with the music and never feels like it’s overshadowing the musical performance. The chorus is every bit as direct as the music coming with it and the same to the bone economy defining the arrangement is heard in K and Chelsey Stallings’ songwriting.
His voice has Americana gravitas and pop music appeal without ever lacking the necessary weight for the lyric. It’s a voice ideally suited for the country/blues/classic rock slant of the material without ever having any of the exaggerated theatricality you hear from people trying too hard to imitate the past. The Krew, as a band, has immense confidence as a band and it’s reflected, as well, in the song’s vocal presentation. Jhonny K and the band have been going at this for a while, but they sound like, Jhonny K in particular, that are seasoned veterans with a long discography and live history behind them. The sound and feel of “To Hell With You” is never forced and comes off as quite intelligent and faithful to its roots.
The mix of banjo, electric guitar, an authoritative rhythm section, and a blend of dynamics gives “To Hell With You” quite a punch from the first and there’s a surprising, yet tasteful, degree of atmospherics in the song. The banjo playing takes on a supporting role, bringing Americana flavor to the track, but there’s a bevy of fiery electric guitar work laced through the song. It’s obvious that The Krew has more than just an understanding of how to play this music with the requisite muscle and swing; they love this music and it’s enough to drive them to make something of it that’s uniquely their own.
With an award winning singer/songwriter serving as their front man and obvious above average skills as musicians, The Krew deserve every bit of the praise they’ve already earned and show no signs of slowing down. Based on this single alone, “To Hell With You”, Smoke Rising is shaping up to be their finest and most fully realized effort yet. “The Best Southern Rockers from the North” are far more than just another good bar band trying to make some sort of dent on the scene; instead, they have the sort of talent we associate with decades old, legendary acts and show immense promise for carrying this style of music into the future.