One of the first things that struck me about the new CD from The Band Of Heathens,Sunday Morning Record, is its strong 1970s influence. You can hear it on almost every track. Residing somewhere in the middle of folk, pop, rock, and country, and some time between the 1970s and now, this record is a wonderful surprise. It lifted me out of my malaise by immediately taking me to another time where any troubles I might have just don’t exist. I love how music can do that.
This studio release, the band’s fourth, reflects some changes in the band’s personnel. There are a few new members since the last album,Top Hat Crown & The Clapmaster’s Son (2011). Singer/guitarist Colin Brooks left in 2011. Drummer John Chipman left, and has been replaced by Richard Millsap. Bassist Seth Whitney also left the band, and this album features a few different bass players.
With all of those changes, one would also expect a change in the band’s sound. And yes, this album has a different sound than its predecessor. I actually think this new one is a much better album. This is an album that I like more each time I listen to it. All of the material is original, written by Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist. It features some excellent vocal work (check out “Girl With Indigo Eyes”), and some really good lyrics. I particularly love this line from “Caroline Williams”: “I never thought you’d leave after staying so long.” What an excellent line. It says so much about the relationship, and his attitude toward it, and states it so simply. This band is able create vivid relationships and situations, and to do it seemingly with ease.
The album opens with “Shotgun,” which is a kind of folk pop, with sweet, tender vocals (that certainly call to mind some of the 1970s music). The song describes a sort of relationship, and early on we hear, “I heard you had a smile on your face while you cried, cried, cried.” And indeed, all the world’s a stage, as is shown in these lines: “Play your part, know your lines/If they ask, we’ll both say, yeah, we’re doing fine.” The song suddenly changes partway through, slowing down, and the song becomes prettier. “All I hear now is the wind blow, riding shotgun through the past” (a line I’m particularly fond of). It then soon picks up again.
“Miss My Life”
“Miss My Life” features a somewhat slow, good rock groove with a southern rock vibe. Actually it reminds me a bit of some of John Sebastian’s work. The chorus is, “I miss my life/I miss the way it was/I miss my life/I miss it just because.” For a moment, vocally it has something of the rhythm of Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (on the lines “Work hard, play harder/Get stoned, be smarter/Left, right, up down, where do we go?/Money’s gone, rent’s due”). I love the change too: “Tell me to forget her/Man, you never met her.” I am totally into this. And I like the work on piano toward the end. This, for me, is one of the album’s highlights.
“Records In Bed”
Something about “Records In Bed” oddly reminds me a bit of Paul Simon’s work from the 1970s – the style, the structure, the drumbeat – not the vocals. It has a bright feel. And the repeated lines (like “round and round and round so slow”) are actually comforting in a way. There is something so sweet and likeable about this song. It had me smiling pretty quickly. It has an interesting ending. This song’s lyrics also provides the CD’s title.
“Since I’ve Been Home”
“Since I’ve Been Home” begins with the lines, “I’ve been trying to catch up on things since I’ve been home/Trying to get used to not being on my own.” This is sweet, quiet folk song, with some very nice vocals. It is one of my favorites, because of its feel, and also because of great lines like, “We break like bad habits never could.” This is simply a good song – nothing flashy or showy – just a really good, strong, melancholy song. The opening line is then repeated as the closing line, the perfect way to end this song. Again, it’s a simple statement that perfectly captures the mood and tone, and its repetition has a kind of resignation about it, as well as a sadness.
“One More Trip”
“One More Trip” is a song that got right to me. Its first lines are “One more trip around the sun/Another year has come and gone/Look around, I don’t feel old/But the clock keeps swinging like a wrecking ball.” I really like the comparison of a clock to a wrecking ball. You automatically get a vision of those old clocks with the pendulum, and the image of the damage time causes. And we can all relate to the line, “I turn around, but there’s no way back.” It’s a song of regrets, of memories, and yet still of hopes (like in the line, “Here’s to good times yet to come/One more trip around the sun”). This track features Ricky Ray Jackson on pedal steel.
Sunday Morning Record ends with “Texas,” a song about Austin, the band’s home town. “But I never wanted to leave this town/Austin’s been a friend of mine.” This song has such sweet vibes, like a good, tall alcoholic beverage on a slow, hot summer day.
CD Track List
Miss My Life
Girl With Indigo Eyes
Records In Bed
Since I’ve Been Home
The Same Picture
One More Trip
Shake The Foundation
Had It All
The Band Of Heathens is Ed Jurdi on vocals, guitar, keyboard and percussion; Gordy Quist on vocals, guitar, lap steel, and percussion; Trevor Nealon on keyboard and percussion; and Richard Millsap on drums and percussion. Joining them on this release are Ryan Bowman on upright and electric bass, Nick Jay on bass, George Reiff on guitar and fuzz bass, Joshua Zarbo on bass, and Ricky Ray Jackson on pedal steel.
Sunday Morning Record is scheduled to be released on September 17, 2013 on the band’s own label, BOH Records.
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