Thursday, February 20, 2014

FIRST IMPRESSION: Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ – Songs for the Turntable

Now that’s what I’m talking about!  Having released almost 20 songs over three EPs over the past year and a half, Kevn Kinney and co bring it all home with the strongest collection of the bunch.  The songs here are uniformly great, from spooked-out opener “Strangers” (with its quietly insistent organ riff driving the song) sounding like a great Rubin-era Tom Petty track to the closing flat-out scorcher “Jesus Christ!” (with an extra emphasis on that exclamation point!), condemning so-called Christians for distorting the message of the titular savior for their own gain. Listen to the way Kinney spits out “Jesus Christ” over recent addition Sadler Vaden’s fiery and soulful leads (Vaden also brought an Audley Freed-like southern virtuosity to Jason Isbell’s recent outings) - the condemnation is both political and personal.  Stunning.

The clear highlight of the set, though, is “Turn” which sounds like the song that Soul Asylum have been chasing for the past two decades. Crunchy, anthemic, and heartfelt…all the hallmarks of their classic ’87-’93 run with an added dose of modern intensity. After 2009’s so-so “Great American Bubble Factory” (good songs, questionable production), it’s heartening to see Kinney and his band close out their series of EPs so strongly.  Now, get your asses out there and catch them live on this spring’s tour!  

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