Saturday, March 27, 2010

Feelin' good in The Promised Land with Lil' Band O' Gold

I will freely admit that I have been focussing on some pretty hard and heavy music over the past little while and so it seemed only right that today, just as I am about to vacate my blogging responsibilities yet again for another few days, that I at least leave you with something a little sunnier. And, as usual when I am trying to think of something new to turn my attention to, the 3 PBS FM Breakfast Spread has again come to the rescue with an album they have been playing quite a bit over the past few weeks – The Promised Land, a brand new release from Louisiana based swamp pop supergroup, The Lil’ Band O’ Gold – who, incidentally, are playing in Melbourne today at yet another gig that I failed to organise myself for.

I gather, from what I have heard and read, that every member of this band is famous for something or other in their different musical histories, with names like David Egan, Richard Comeaux, Dickie Landry, Warren Storm, CC Adrock, Steve Riley, Pat Breaux, Dave Ranson, Kenny Bill Stinson, Tommy McLain and Lil’ Buck Sinegal. But, needless to say, I haven’t heard of any of them and so have been in the rather delightful position today of being able to just sit back and listen to their music without having much of an idea of what to expect. Which made what I discovered only all the more wonderful.

The lively dancing rhythm and blues of the opening ‘Spoonbread’ take you right into the dance halls of rural Louisiana and that’s where you stay for the whole of The Promised Land, having a whale of a time, even when you are shedding a tear or two to ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’, or to ‘Hard Enough’, or even sobbing out loud to ‘Memories’(despite its unashamed sentimentality), made just that little bit sadder by the way the saxophone sings so inconsolably in the middle.

But the feeling that sticks with you most of all through this album is the unbridled joy that The Lil’ Band O’ Gold seem to have in performing it, adorning those earthy, rustic zydeco textures with the extra little bit of richness that comes when you add in a couple of saxophones and some keys, breathing new life and colour into old faded sepia photographs so that, even when it’s bopping and pounding to a rock beat, like it is in ‘Runaway’s Life’, it feels like it has transported you back right into the midst of times that you only know about from stories that your grandparents told you.

This is the music that you listen to when you’re having a bad day, and it will turn it into a good day; music that makes you feel all warm and good inside, like you do after eating macaroni cheese; music that makes you want to dance the old fashioned way and to dress up to listen to it; music that makes you feel all warm and nostalgic, like it does in ‘Dreamer’ with its old and friendly piano.

But don’t for a moment think that this is just a modern copy of old music, because it’s not. It captures a spirit, a time, a place, and delivers it to you, resurrected and amplified for the 21st century – like in the big and booming sounds of ‘The Last Hayride’ – from the hands of a team of musicians who clearly love what they do, and who love the roots from which they have sprung enough to keep them alive by allowing them to continue to bloom anew.

Wherever you are, wherever you’ve been, and wherever you thought you wanted to go, The Promised Land is a place in which you need to spend some time. It will do you good.

Thanks, as always, to Matt and Jenny on the PBS Breakfast Spread for their unerringly great choices of music to kick off the day and to fuel yet another little spurt of economy stimulating possibilities for me.

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