Sunday, May 06, 2007

Animal Liberation Orchestra: Roses and Clover

Written by Fumo Verde

Hey katz and kittenz, it's Fumo here with the new CD by Animal Liberation Orchestra and let me tell you, this is one of the reasons why I do this job. Roses & Clover plays as sweet as the name proclaims with its gentle blend of rock, jazz, and rhythm and blues-- prepare yourself for a journey. With melodies and harmonies reflective of the sounds of the ‘70s and lyrics that echo the feelings of today, ALO has captured the magic of Steely Dan and Boz Skaggs, bands with the musical talent to play and write. ALO crafts each song to perfection and Roses & Clover proves that right here.

I'm still debating which song is my favorite. Out of the ten tracks I have yet hit a song where I could say, "This wasn't needed here," or "How does this fit with the rest of the album?" I've had this CD for four days and haven't stopped playing it. As I write this, “Water Song” is playing. Reminiscent of James Taylor, there’s a feeling of being out on the open range with the crickets chirping, as the lone piano comes into play. "Canyons carved by oceans beneath a light of a billion stars./ The Old ones knew the truth about us,/ the purpose is to be just what we are." If you were ever looking for deep lyrics that really make sense, ALO is that band. This song rolls through your mind like a river, reflecting the pictures of your life in their words. If this tune doesn't get you back to thinking of things that you once held near and dear, then I don't know what will.

Each song has that similar sensation to it, giving the listener a chance to engage the images and emotions that flow thru words. “Maria” is a love song and the lead track off the album. It opens with the piano pumping out that '70s feel-good sound, which made its way into almost every film soundtrack from that decade. This song gives me the idea of jumping in my truck and taking a ride on the 101 heading north towards Ventura, but then I remember that this is 2007 and I could play this disc five time over while sitting in stop-and-go traffic on the 10, but I would still be in the "get out of town" mode.

“Try” has more of the R&B root to it but with a funk twist. If the slapping of the bass doesn't get you, the organ’s wha wha pedal will. It even sounds like they had a little bit of a brass section drop in to play. With an old blues beat, “Roses & Clover” taps into the funky blues with a tiny drop of jazz. “Monday” has a jazz/rock essence to it with its easy drumbeat, soft guitar riffs, and backing vocal harmonies. It becomes that Monday morning commute song that wakes you up smoothly as you drink your coffee on the drive into work. “Shine” slows the album down, adding more of a jazz aspect while giving the song a European flair from what sounds like a harmonica. This song makes me imagine Paris in the rain with all the people biking around.

Although each song is different from the next, one gets the impression that ALO wants you to use your mind when listing to their music, which isn't a bad idea nowadays. If people weren't taking ALO seriously, the better start now. A contemporary album with an old school flavor, Roses & Clover is sweet and sharp like its namesake. It may not get the airplay some of the other “music” out there is getting but it does deserve respect.

One last thing, see these guys in concert. It is well worth it.