This is definitely a different band than I fell in love with almost 10 years back, even a little different than their last release. Girls Guns and Glory has seen a lot of transformation since their first recording “Fireworks and Alcohol”. Constantly chasing what will be that perfect song, that perfect sound, and owning it. This effort is no different….a little less roots, a little more rock n’ roll. A little more polish on the tracks than F&A for sure (I think you can thank a the label for this). Regardless of why, I can see that commercial appeal comes into play a little more, and that’s not a bad thing for the boys or for us listening. The result is something you want to dance around the floor too and get down a bit.
Hayden still has a way with the English language and lyrics. His ability to take a simple phrase and make it into a great hook still rings true throughout this new work, and for that I am thankful. His voice is front and center where it should be, where I found it a bit buried in “Sweet Nothings”, the previous album. Though the overall feel of the songs certainly has taken a turn from that lonesome sadness to a hopeful glee in the songwriter’s life (I think we can thank a certain lady for that), he proves that “country-tinged” songs don’t have to be all heartache and desperation. His vocal is one of the most memorable in the Americana scene these days (if not THE most memorable) and I am glad to see it truly shining in these mixes. It’s clear and crisp and strong as ever.
Stand out tracks are “Rocking Chair Money”, starting off simple and acoustic with Hayden’s voice taking center stage. A slow build with a mid tempo snare and hat, a lonesome guitar howl, and steady bass. A nice break from the heavier parts of the rocking record and a smart insert.
Another track I have gravitated to with each listen is the opening song “All The Way Up To Heaven”. It puts Ward’s ability to take a simple phrase and make it a memorable hook in full view. A great arrangement with the usual line up, some plucked banjo in the back as a nice surprise if you listen close. It just has a killer groove, some excellent lyric lines, and an excellent sing along phrasing. The band is super tight.
One criticism I do have (more of a request I suppose) is I would like to hear this entire record performed either solo acoustic by Ward or “more acoustically” by the band together. I feel like some of that “something” that the band has always exuded is a bit lost in tracks like “Jello”, where a whole lot of noise is going on. Though I will say, the track is a wonderful homage to 50s Rock, Chuck Berry, and shaking your booty. Another thing I noticed, is Hayden seems to “howl” quite a bite throughout the record…a new signature, perhaps?
Overall I think this is an extremely solid effort from these boys. Between the four of them, there is an endless supply of talent on stage or on tape. Their vocal harmonies are smooth as butter and the playing is prime. With their previous release they were searching for that “new sound” and I think with “Good Luck” they have nailed it down solid. A place where they are happy and so are their fans. Hayden seems to have finally found the crew (and been with them long enough) that he can put his full faith in and be the front man that he plays so well, and the band can rely on him to do so while they lay down their part.
“Good Luck” will be released on February 7th here in town at The Sinclair in Cambridge with Sarah Borges and The Swinging Steaks (now that’s a hell of a line up). Tickets here: http://www.sinclaircambridge.com/event/443721-girls-guns-glory-sarah-cambridge/