Track listing: Pretty on the Outside, One Man’s Misery, Someday Somebody, Live Your Life, Tom Petty (and the Highway), Never Fall In, She Was There, Everything, Not For Her, Which Side of the RoadWhen listening to Howlin’ Alan’s album Back to Plan A, you can envision yourself going back into time with his peaceful, Tom-Petty-like guitar riffs and soulful Neil Young vocals. Alan Joyce (aka Howlin’ Alan) refers to his original creations as “Country Rock Americana Pop” (acronym not indicative). Those who might chuckle about this have to realize his sound is nowhere near C.R.A.P. Alan submerged himself in 60’s and 70’s classic rock, but his sound incorporates many genres including country, blues, and folk.
“One Man’s Misery” shows off Alan's union of country and blues. This ballad expresses the anguish, heartbreak, sadness, and pain of a man, through Alan's harmonica and blues guitar riffs. “Tom Petty (and the Highway)” delivers a remarkable tribute to the song's namesake. It follows a songwriter in search of a better life for himself and his girl. So he heads to Nashville, but gets lost along the way with his Tom Petty mix tape. Lyrically, the song interestingly incorporates a number of Petty's own song titles.
The remainder of the album enjoyably crisscrosses back and forth among blues, classic rock, and country/western. "Everything” brings to mind an old Western movie—you can almost see the cowboy riding off into the sunset.
Howlin' Alan's tells intimate stories with marvelous lyrics. And Back to Plan A is great to listen while having a nice cold brew, or might serve as a soul-soothing companion on a long voyage.