Saturday, June 25, 2011

Holy Ghost Station - The Dustbowl Revival - (EP) Album Review

Where can you hear a dizzying blend of music on the fringe of 1930's swing, blues, jazz, gospel, jug band, bluegrass and French folk? At the Holy Ghost Station, of course. There you will find The Dustbowl Revival, a consortium of skilled musicians of all sorts lead by the little bit crazy and highly creative Zach Lupetin. As you listen to songs like "In That Old Dust Bowl" or the slow shuffle blues of the title track, it is easy to be so overcome by the musical chops that you may gloss over the lyrical content. The players seriously jam and it wasn't until the third or fourth listen that I started seeing the images of Americana that Lupetin paints with gritty emotion and tender humor- "Ain't is sad when they take your home when your crops go bad and you lose your soul." Lupetin sings lead vocals on most of the tracks but lucky for us, Caitlin Doyle, in wonderful form, coos out- "Well, you know you don't got no looks. Lord knows you don't make no money but when another day is in the books. You are still my honey bunny" in the horns drenched and cutely sexy- "What You're Doing to Me."

There are so many surprises on this EP. "Le Bataillon" is one of them. The arrangement from the "Bom baddom baddom" vocals, tuba bass, horn and accordion phrasings, dancing mandolin and more is elegant and raucous at the same time. It has the intoxicating party feel of Bob Dylan's "Everybody Must Get Stoned" and, again, Lupetin is both story teller and provocateur. "Western Passage", an instrumental (except for some backing vocals) creates super wide vistas of styles. From its decidedly Spanish guitar that transforms into some form of ultra hot cowboy jazz, to its almost calypso beat, to its Russian folk breaks, it is a marvelous composition. Horns and bass swirl around a wonderful clarinet and guitar interplay with a banjo picking all the while. It is a cinematic sound scape that is part Spaghetti Western, part Hope and Crosby road show, and part European spy caper that could be and should be in a Quentin Tarantino movie. "No Anchor Rag" is a fiddle and acoustic guitar infused hand clapper and foot stomper - "Git me on a boat that aint got no anchor"- that conjures up depression era folks in an Oklahoma revival tent feeling the spirit.

Apart from the fact, that The Dustbowl Revival creates both complex and just damn fun music, apart from the fact that the musicianship displayed is formidable, Lupetin's vision also take us on a musical journey. As the Black Keys rendition of "Grown So Ugly" helped to turn on a new generation to Louisiana Blues musician Robert Pete Williams, maybe The Dustbowl Revival will have some of us also "looking back" as they reincarnate and reinvent the type of jazz, folk and blues that was in constant flux and change in the 30's and 40's. If you listen carefully to Holy Ghost Station, hopefully, you will see and hear the ghosts of luminaries like Blind Boy Fuller, Bob Will and his Texas Playboys, Les Paul, Woody Guthrie, Gotham Stompers, Bessie Smith, and more.

Adler Bloom

Holy Ghost Station record release on Saturday July 30, 2011 at 8:00pm
McCabe's Guitar Shop
3101 Pico Blvd
Santa Monica, California 90405 
You can stream the single - Here

The Dustbowl Revival

Zach Lupetin - Lead vocals /acoustic Guitar / harmonica / tuba-kazoo
Caitlin Doyle - Lead vocals / vocals / washboard
Daniel Mark - mandolin
Ray Bergstrom - Spanish/gypsy guitar
Connor Vance - fiddle
Josh Heffernan - drums
Austin Nicholson - bass
David Silverman - sousaphone
Gee Rabe - accordion 
Matt bBreur - banjo
Ulf Bjorlin - trombones
Nate Ketner - sax, clarinet
Matt Rubin - trumpet

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