What is it about the impending arrival of Spring that brings out great new albums? I know Spring is a few weeks away yet, but it seems that great albums are in bloom all over the place. Especially in the folk/rock arena, with artists such as Bobby Long, Lee MacDougall, and Wes Kirkpatrick all releasing albums in recent weeks.
Thankfully, the streak seems to be continuing with Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel and their release Turncoats, which just came out this week. Evidently it wasn’t the easiest project to work on together and there was a bit of turnover in the band lineup while recording. “There was a lot of turmoil,” says Cory. “Artistically, it didn’t work out, but we’re still great friends with everyone.”
Like many bands I’ve reviewed of late, it’s tough to pin down just one style for Cory and the band. They bring aspects of folk and Americana traditions while also bringing in bits of country and rock for good measure. And Cory’s voice is the constant across all of it, with a sound that reminds me quite a bit of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s lead singer Scotty Morris. The songs on Turncoats run the gamut from the Western-sounding “3 Step” and the Doors-sounding “Gypsy” to the bossa nova beach-party groove of “Dr. Pleasure M.D.” and ’70s-style guitar groove of “Venus.”
Honestly, “3 Step” would be right at home in the soundtrack for a modern Western. (I hear Quentin Tarantino may be working on one and he should definitely give it a listen!) The awesome bass line and sliding guitars give it some serious texture, while it seamlessly slides into a more polished sound with electric-guitar solos in the background. All of this comes along with Cory’s voice telling a dark story about fears of turning into something worse: “Catch me clutching to my crime. / Swear I loathe your jealous type. / You crave possession, now I find my own way home, way home.”
Then we literally slide (via electric guitar) into “Fever” where Cory growls the lyrics about a guy trapped by the love (perhaps lust) of a woman. “Fever / You’re in trouble son / She’s your fever.” It’s his father asking him why in the heck he’s being led by the nose. His father’s been there too: “You won’t catch me trippin’ over wise man’s robes / But why did you go and let her in?” All the while, there’s this amazing bass line and haunting guitars walking the song along.
And then there’s “Gypsy,” which almost has a Doors-feel with a “People are Strange” similar bass line and mixing up the beats and song styles measure to measure. This one is more upbeat than the first two tracks. It seems as though the person singing was looking for advice and may have been confused by the Gypsy offering hers. As he tries to figure it out, he’s playing with ideas. “I think I’ll move to Arizona, where it’s said the souls are warmer / Tired of all these strangers think they read my mind / Turn around they watch you fall, they watch you fall, they watch…”
The whole album mixes styles and rhythms with amazing ease. In “Dr. Pleasure M.D.” it has almost a bossa nova groove that reminded me of a beach party, while “Venus” has a ’70′s style guitar that would be at home in many films of the era. It’s obvious that Cory and the entire band have a wide variety of influences, which they mix and match to meet the needs of a particular song.
Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel offer a unique blend of musical styles that makes Turncoats a great album. If you’re looking for a new Americana band to try, I’d encourage you to pick this one up. It’s definitely not your parents’ version of Americana! Be sure to check them out on Facebook and MySpace for news and tour information!