United For Opportunity
From opener to closer, we’re on the last sliver of edge here. The title track of this predominantly original-material album begins with a couple of deep thuds, then launches into a medium-tempo country rocker with a likeable melody sung upper-register, emphatically and angst-driven. That vocal matches quite well the theme of worrying over things not attempted. That gives way to a slow number about keeping love going now that morning has come. It’s called “Window” and recalls the early Bee Gees. Next up, a solid rock tune with a hint of country. Lots of electric guitar and pounding drums. I hear Fleetwood Mac, but one could argue for the Flying Burrito Brothers at their rocking-est. Finally, at track four, a travelin’ song (“Where I’m Bound”) brings out a touch of bluegrass. However, it is bluegrass as the New Riders Of The Purple Sage might have done it. It’s fast. There’s a banjo solo. But the feel is country—drums and all. And so it goes for another five songs. There are a couple more rock guitar and drum tunes. Alex Chilton’s “Thirteen,” a song about seeing the Beatles, gets a nice reading. Some pedal steel appears. A banjo and organ duet opens “Viva La Vida.” And don’t forget the french horn.
All this from the Abrams Brothers, a talented Canadian trio with a vision for writing and arranging pleasant, if sometimes lyrically vague, pop and pop country tunes. John and James handle the vocals. Both are tenor-range voices, John being slightly lower. Both, along with brother Elijah, are also fine multi-instrumentalists. Backing them are 12 guests, of which only drummer Anton Fier’s name looks familiar.
Even with “Where I’m Bound” and a couple tracks with banjo coloring, it’s hard to call any of this bluegrass, and very little of it country. But it is still pretty good music, well-played and sung and cleverly arranged. (United For Opportunity 133 W. 25th St., 5th Fl., New York, NY 10001 www.ufomusic.com.)BW