I hate to sound like an old guy, but this band really makes me nostalgic for the old days. Every album by them is solid. Just really good musicians making good music. No annoying studio tricks and gimmicky dance sounds. Just good music in the pop/rock vein. And, on their latest release, they’ve taken a step in the soul direction. That should be no surprise given the singing of Robert Bradley.
The opening cut is a dead giveaway where they’re going. “All I Wanna Do” features great chord changes, wonderful vocals by Bradley, and guitar work that helps drive the tune along. Not sure who plays what, but guitarists Matthew Ruffino and Russ Epker work together very well. The cut has great single-note and chordal fills that are pure soul heaven. They pop along and really contribute to the groove. Then, a very melodic solo rips through the great changes with a biting tone that really grabs you. It’s an amazing opening cut and really shines a light on what’s to come.
The title cut covers a lot of the same ground. Soul music updated for the early part of the 21st century, but still harkening back. Again, the guitar shines, not just on the solo, but through the entire song. One nice aspect about this playing is how it helps the song. It never dominates, just fills it out. Not unlike guitar work in soul classics from the ’70s. There’s other great stuff, too. Check out the killer groove on the cover of the Sam and Dave chestnut, “I Thank You.” Or the longing and loneliness of “Anna.” And, the record wraps up with “Hollywood,” a tale of tinsel town that is both funny and sad, with a great soul feel.
There’s a lot to recommend here. Bradley’s vocals are great throughout. The band supplies perfect support, and the guitar work is as understated and tasteful as you’re about to find this year. That sort of playing is an art form that appears to be losing favor, but not here. Also, and again, this is a pet subject for me, the CD clocks in at a perfect time, under 40 minutes. Ten excellent songs that don’t waste your time. I’m tellin’ ya, most CDs in this day and age are too long with too much filler. Definitely not a problem here. One of my favorite releases of 2003.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.