Broken Side of Time is an apt name for the first full-length release from Alberta Cross. The New York-based rock band explores dark, impassioned territory to the persistent beat of throbbing bass lines and vocalist Petter Ericson Stakee’s haunting wails.
The album begins with “Song Three Blues,” swaying to a heavy descending bass and Stakee’s distinctive high-pitched plaintive cries. From the first moment the music starts, a sense of anger and dissatisfaction is evident; it’s a feeling of simply wanting more, of wanting to feel something more than the mundane. The band ranges through a space punctuated by waves of gritty riffs and powerful builds throughout the album, churning forward and backing off into soft acoustic intervals.
“Song Three Blues” and the title track capture an authentic emotive vibe with crashing crescendos of distorted guitars and Stakee’s otherworldly voice, but other tracks lack their poignant sincerity. “Taking Control,” “City Walls,” and “Leave Us and Forgive Us” are unremarkable—they cover the same musical ground that roots rock bands have been stomping on for decades.
But Alberta Cross can also throw out good old-fashioned country-blues tunes on occasion. “Old Man Chicago” is a slowly rocking anthem, swaying to a feel-good riff and a chorus of uplifting group vocals. It sounds a little like Neil Young with Bob Dylan’s storytelling flair—a great, if unintended, tribute from a band deeply influenced by classic rock.
The final song on Broken Side of Time is “Ghost of the City Life,” a mostly acoustic number encapsulating the essence of a weary disenchantment with modern urban life. A steel guitar and piano float in high, ethereal melodies above Stakee’s haunting vocals. The track has an open country feel, its percussion echoing with a sense of nostalgic finality. Alberta Cross have the musical and lyrical dexterity necessary for great bluesy rock albums, especially on songs like this one, but the band still have some refining to do.