It's a cruel fact of music that you can have a career spanning 20 years and 11 albums and still be an unknown quantity to the vast majority. Case in point, this Americana and blues LA outfit fronted by Kelly Zirbes and her guitarist co-writer Perry Robertson, who've clearly built sufficient a following to sustain them and warrant tours across both the States and Europe, but without really registering on the popular radar of the genre.
As you would imagine from such a lengthy experience, they're a tight outfit, Zirbes and Robertson bolstered by regular band members Rob Zucca on guitars, bassistMatt McFadden, Sebastian Sheehan on drums and Bobby Orgel on keys with contributions here from pedal steel player Doug Pettibone, Ted Russell Kamp and one man rhythm section Scotty Lund.
There's a strong bar band feel about them, evident on such numbers as the organ led, bluesy "Mr Chairman" with its parping sax, the southern soul "Rise Above", swaggering muscular blues rock "On Fire" with its searing guitars and the slinky six minute bluesy prowl that is "Love Is Hard To Catch". Things like album opener "About Here" with its moody Hispanic groove, the title cut, which refers to the hostile reception soldiers returning from Vietnam received and opens with a whistled refrain of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" before sliding into a samba-like Latino rhythm. and the thigh-slapping barnyard romp "Stay Away" show a willingness to paint in other colours, but, for me, it's the ballads that serve them the strongest. "Come Home" leads the field with its simple acoustic guitar and Zirbes' almost Celtic warble, but other highlights include the pedal steel laced brushed drums shuffle "Thorn" and the tumbling melody of strummed poignant folksy closer "Colours of December", a song for those who have had friends or family die in war, and the uncluttered. The final stretch also features two more stand out moments in the Spanish guitar accompanied "Without A Song", which, like the brief a capella gospel "Proud" serves to showcase her powerful and impassioned vocals.
Not having heard past work, I can't say just how much this reportedly shows a different direction, but hopefully it's one that will turn a few more ears their way.
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