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The Get Ahead The Get Ahead
Album: Deepest Light
Label: Jullian
Tracks: 11
Website: http://www.thegetahead.com

It opens with the circling acoustic guitar notes, tumbling drums and cascading chords of 'Sister Cities', Nathan on lead for a somewhat cryptic lyric about separation and self, referencing Portland's sister city of Sapporo in Japan (it has eight others) with which it was twinned in 1959, while, on a similar theme 'Break' has him singing "Lost you to wild nights of revelry/Lost you before I ever knew your name/Now you are buried in the wild sea/But you live wild in the air I breathe."

A Portland five piece fronted by husband and wife Nathan Earle and Juliet Howard and backed by bassist Sean Farrell, drummer Danny Johnson and Angie Johnson on sax and violin, they describe this, their debut album following on from a 2017 EP, as celebrating and fuelled by the rebirth of creativity exemplified in the principle of the divine feminine (symbolically, the cover features Howard in full pregnancy bloom).

It opens with the circling acoustic guitar notes, tumbling drums and cascading chords of 'Sister Cities', Nathan on lead for a somewhat cryptic lyric about separation and self, referencing Portland's sister city of Sapporo in Japan (it has eight others) with which it was twinned in 1959, as he sings "Lost you to wild nights of revelry/Lost you before I ever knew your name/Now you are buried in the wild sea/But you live wild in the air I breathe."

There's a lazy goodtime folk blues slouch to 'July Moon' as it lurches through the refrain of how "We will all go home/Covered in gold dust/We will all go home/Stars in our eyes", the blues also an underpinning influence on 'Swarm' which conjures the cool 70s funky grooves of Seals and Crofts while there's a Doobies meets Stevie Wonder vibe to Deepest Light.

By contrast, Faint Outline' is enrobed in dreamy folk swirls with sweeps of fiddle and acoustic and steel guitars on another set of lyrics that conjure images of thinking of home and reflecting on what's been left and lost when out on the road as Nathan sings about "Looking for a faint outline/Patterns in the ceiling tile/A map of highway and city miles… When I go back down the road behind."

The setting sun and the losing of the light, physical and metaphorical underpin 'I Want It Back', another number where they band show their 70s funky blues and soulchops, their jam tendencies finding even fuller expression on 'Break', the organ-driven 'Leave Me' and the psychedelic tinges of 'Paper Tiger' on which you might also discern touches of Crown of Creation era Jefferson Airplane.

They head to a close with 'Special Breed', a sax-led windows down, out on the highway goodtime rolling number where Bob Seger and Steve Miller take turns behind the wheel, ending up stripping it all back to the acoustic sparse balladry of 'Peach Tree', organ gradually swelling behind Nathan's cracked vocals in the catharsis of how "Out on the island/You stood under the peach tree/And I felt something break loose in me."

I suspect that you need to experience them live to get the full power of their musicianship, but this album is a mighty fine taster of what that must be like.

Mike Davies