Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By RICK JOHNSON
"Junkyard Stew" is not what it seems. The new album by Scarborough band The Strangely Possibles starts off simply enough with the calm country shuffle of the lead track, "Wannabe."
HOW IT RATES
THE STRANGELY POSSIBLES: "JUNKYARD STEW"
PRODUCED BY Steve Drown
Based on a four-star scale
Singer Al Timpson delivers simple, direct lyrics with a whispery, earnest vocal that's sort of a cross between ironic indie and heartfelt modern country. One minute or so into the tune, you think you know exactly what you're in for. But then small, subtle touches appear that elevate something that could have been run of the mill to something extraordinary.
Winsome female backing vocals, a lonely honky-tonk piano and sweet but sad cries from a violin take this song to another realm entirely. And that's just the opening track!
The band ups the intensity and the tempo with tracks such as "Venice," featuring a grittier, Springsteen-esque vocal from Timpson and some great keyboard accents courtesy of Flash Allen. The violins are there too, but sounding less sorrowful and more joyful. Oh, and did I mention the horn section? Unexpected, but somehow perfect.
A sad cello and a gorgeous female vocal mark "Lucky #7" as one of the stand-out tracks of the album, and "Let Me Know" is a perfect re-creation of the country-tinged rock of the early '70s, with the keyboards adding just a hint of late-'70s New Wave.
Elsewhere, "Blood on that Guitar" boasts a downright danceable backbeat coupled with just enough jangly guitar to keep the dance party going all night long. The driving and dynamic "Country Song" features a great singalong chorus delivered in a terrific gospel choir style. And the closing track "So Simple" starts off almost jazz-like, then morphs into something almost un-classifiable.
"Junkyard Stew" is beautifully produced by Steve Drown, which couldn't have been an easy task, given the number of voices and musicians involved. The band wisely thanks Drown for helping to "take it to the next level."
They also got lots of help from some two dozen friends and musicians, including local veterans Spencer Albee, Anna Lombard and Kate Schrock (to name a few), all of whom help give the album a big bold sound that truly puts this music in a class by itself.
There are so many different styles on "Junkyard Stew" that fans of just about any genre will find plenty to enjoy. From country to indie rock, blues, disco and everything in between (sometimes all within the space of a single song), The Strangely Possibles serve up more than enough musical variety to satisfy even the most jaded "heard-it-all-before" hipster.
Contact the band on Facebook for information about getting your heaping helping of "Junkyard Stew." Then gorge yourself on great tunes.
Rick Johnson is a freelance writer and radio host from Westbrook. He can be reached at: