by Germar Derron
I did not know what to expect. I let the first track rip; I was pleasantly surprised. Each note lifted my mood--even more than this better than average holiday season already has. I felt happier and warmer. It sounds like the sun shining perfectly on my skin. So I went and reread the promotional materials: "sunny folk rock." Makes sense. On "Set a Course for Common Worlds" they nail that. Actually, the sun shines throughout the album, even on the arguably "darker" tracks.
Overall, the composition, arrangement, production, and mix matches the brighter lighter vibe of the tunes. But it's not sparse or even alt or experimental. And I hear the noise at the end of "Roots." I hear 'jagged edges'--like the mix could have been tighter or smashed in a box for radio-play. But it doesn't detract or scream DIY. Somehow, it sounds proper.
This is Americana . . . and it's America. But it has to be more than that, because I feel it in the way that I might feel soul or pop. And somehow it sounds dated, modern, and timeless at the same time. I could easily believe that a classic rock band wrote "Has Anybody Seen Bob" in 1971. Maybe I just found the 'Soul Xchange' in Midwest Soul Xchange. Maybe that sound is the 'New American' in New American Century.
The album is completely cohesive without monotony. They do take chances and veer off of 'Sunny American Way,' e.g. see "Sun Dried." But it fits. It all fits. But I shouldn't be shocked. Folk music, all over the world, remains popular for good reasons. It's always a little of the old mixed with some of the new. It's always heartfelt. It's always good.