Four Way Stop. L-R: Ryan Purser, Wyatt Brady, Kyle Graves, Joe Cranfield. Photography by Lizzy Tate.
Last night in Jackson, MS, Landmark Live’s Streaming Concert Series featured up-and-coming rock group Four Way Stop, and I am pleased to report the band delivered.The Mississippi-based quartet kicked off the night with a reverent cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” Although lead singer Ryan Purser seemed to hold back a bit on the opener, he spent the rest of the evening belting out the high notes to more complex Zeppelin covers, as well as the likes of Greta Van Fleet’s “Highway Tune” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” Lead guitarist/secondary vocalist Kyle Graves added a nice juxtaposition to Purser’s wailing with vocal stylings reminiscent of Chris Robinson, most noticeably on the band’s version of “Hard to Handle.” Meanwhile, drummer Wyatt Brady didn’t miss a single beat on even the most percussively difficult tunes, and multi-instrumentalist Joe Cranfield effortlessly switched from bass to keys, creating a pleasantly unexpected differentiation to the set’s flow. Based on the Zep covers and similar ilk, as well as the two originals the band performed (including a jaw-dropping extended instrumental), FWS is obviously shooting for a throw-back hard rock sound. But, in addition to the aforementioned “Hard to Handle,” the group slid in a few spectacular versions of country-blues rock tracks, including Allman’s “Midnight Rider,” Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See,” CCR’s “Keep on Chooglin’,” and a rocked out version of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” (The last of which Graves stole from me, but whatever. Really, it’s fine. Seriously. Peachy! You’re welcome, Kyle! Also, you’re dead to me.) The country-blues stuff coupled with the alternating lead vocalists creates a strong Eagles vibes, and what self-respecting, classic-inspired rock act wouldn’t want to be described as a Zeppelin-meets-Eagles hybrid? Well, there probably are some, but I don’t think these guys will take offense. The main criticism of the affair would be the occasional pitchy-ness of both singers, although I’ve rarely heard an act, indie or major (myself included!), make it through a night pitch perfect. The vocals were also buried in the music early in the evening, but the mic volumes were raised as the show progressed, no doubt owed to expert noodling by MC/engineer Topher Brown, a Mississippi legend in his own right. In short, the concert was a resounding success, providing an antidote for COVID-19 Quarantine Blues and showcasing an exceptional young band, well-worth keeping an eye on.