A Breath of Fresh Air: The Soapbox Saints bring rockabilly into the modern day

The Soapbox Saints (Photo: Bill Keough)

The Soapbox Saints are a rockabilly trio from Providence, who are about to release their first full-length album, and they’re doing it with style. I say rockabilly, but their influences are far-ranging — from rockabilly to old school rock & roll, country to blues, and surf rock to doo-wop. These guys have done their homework and take their craft seriously.


Pre-pandemic, they released an EP called Introducing the Soapbox Saints. It was a great recording, but they have vastly matured in their newest effort. On May 24 the new album will be released with a coinciding album release party at Askew. The Saints will also give you some bang for your buck with a special combo deal that includes a 7” single with a CD and digital download. The 7” has “Looking For Love” (single version) on the A side, and “No time” and “Rose Colored Glasses” on the B side.

The band consists of Billy Moretti on guitars and vocals, Jack Hanlon on upright bass and vocals, and Tony Nimmo on drums. Two special guests appear on the album as well — Frankie “Ranks” Moniz comes in on the saxophone, and Jami “Sleazie” Woloff makes his presence known on the lap steel.

The album sounds amazing. So much so, you would think they paid an exorbitant amount of money to a professional studio for sound this good. I was shocked to learn the album was actually recorded in Billy Moretti’s home studio nicknamed “Studio 57D.” Moretti also mixed and mastered the album himself, and did a masterful job of it.

Moretti says, “I wanted to get a warm and clear sound. We tracked through an old TAC Scorpion mixing console using tube pre’s, etc. We put ribbon mics on the drums and tried to keep tracking to an old school approach of no splice takes or looping stuff. All very live, keeping the best full takes. On mastering, I went very modern to try to get the best of both old school sound and modern technology with the album.” And he did.

Moretti achieved the best of both worlds with this recording and it should serve as an example to younger artists everywhere: You can do this on your own if you put in the time and dedication. The Soapbox Saints have dedication in spades — this debut album has a whopping 13 masterfully produced tracks.

From the opening, rollicking chords of the first track, “Looking for Love,” they take you on a rockabilly journey. Moretti and Hanlon share lead vocal duties and do a superb job harmonizing with each other.
They accomplished a neat and difficult trick with this album — simultaneously making listeners feel nostalgic while providing a completely new sound. Not easy to do, especially with a niche genre like rockabilly.

I can’t stress enough how pristine the sound is on this album. If you listen to old rockabilly recordings and even some new ones, the sound can be muddy. Here, however, every detail of sound is clearly heard and their love for what they do can be heard throughout the entire recording.

The fourth track on the album, “The Clown,” leads you in with a ballad-like approach when suddenly it pulls you into pure rockabilly goodness. The bass on this song pops in just the right ways, as do the backing vocals, which are brilliant throughout the entire recording.

Each of the tracks are a masterclass in an amalgamation of sounds that culminate in trademark rockabilly. The track “Please” brings to mind the vintage recordings of both Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins. The Soapbox Saints are known for their high-energy live performances and they have managed to translate that to their recordings. Again, not easy to do.

“Desire,” the sixth track on the album, smolders and carries itself like a ’59 Cadillac prowling the streets. The vocals on the song are reminiscent of Roy Orbison in the best possible way. Listen to the chorus when it kicks in and you’ll hear exactly what I mean.

The writing on the album is superb as well. Coming up with this many original songs within this style would test some of the most seasoned writers, but these guys pull it off with style and aplomb. If it seems like I’m going out of my way to put these guys over, it’s because I am. In a modern world of AI and play by the numbers music, The Soapbox Saints are a welcome breath of fresh air.

The Soapbox Saints /