Everyone has reservoirs of love and is affected by politics, and everyone deals with politics and is affected by love. Either way you read it, they’re universal pluses or minuses. Nothing changes, while everything does. Eacret and Ledeboer’s third CD is a full-throated call of the Al-songbird to the base loves and hates in us all with excellent accompaniment from many musicians from the area (Jim Longnecker, Shawn McVicker, Jeff Peterson, Roger Miller, Sarah Prophet, Mike McGourty, Denton Ketels, Mike Grover and Dave Malam).
Stirring up private desire in “A WOMAN IN MIND” Al, who also engineered and mixed all tracks, starts our emotional engines. The swamp bass, heart-pounding drumming and smoky saxophone by local musicians, Grover, McGourty and McVicker serve as the perfect tapestry for Peterson’s wailing guitar and Longnecker’s and Eacret’s male vocals, strutting or languid, sweep up the listener in upbeat anticipation. A perfect introduction to those hormone-stimulated politics of love.
The second track, TIP OF THE SUN, features the icier female vocal of Caroline Ledeboer amid a trotting beat and a swirl of Peterson’s slide guitar and Longnecker’s keyboards, almost a throwback to an eighties dance pop feel sends the song scurrying around the mind. Eacret and Ledeboer’s evocation of desire on the edge of disaster slams us into those moments when we really couldn’t remember rationally what our priorities were, and felt just hypnotized in our choices in life.
The following track, ONE GOD, pulls us back with a disciplined background chorus of female believers but sashaying and winking drum and bass lines let us in on the real truth our commercial society has fed us, holds us in its spell, as we tiptoe through our working days towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Al’s prophetic vocals sound both warm and somewhat demonic, and the spurts of guitar and organ accents in reggae fashion back the despair at the howling hypocricy of our days.
Suddenly, on track 4, HALIFAX, it appears true love gives us an ocean of keyboard, background ooh’s, and a pure-sounding oboe. Mike McGourty’s tastefully timed drums back Eacret’s main balladeering vocals, buoyed as they are by the lyrics’ tender affirmation of wedding vows.
WHAT THE GREEKS REFUSED TO TELL US is an almost ironic happy pop serving of metaphysical questions with a great psychedelic wash of keyboards by Longnecker and the Roger Miller-plucked electric sitar behind a straight-up in-the-pocket mix of drums by Ketels, rhythm guitar and bass. Caroline’s soft vocal delivery seems at times to lilt against her own background harmony and the keyboards "like a cat that roams the alley/slips beneath the gate”. It's an upbeat song with a bit of a bite beneath the surface.
Al’s I GOT SOMEBODY is set to a slowed bass in the back of a lounge, robust power guitar strums, and an unforgiving guitar solo, over Jim on Wurlitzer piano (a great muted and warm electronic sound not often heard anymore) ambling restlessly along Al’s almost ominous and driving vocals with a note of both celebration and warning.
TALK RADIO, track 7, with its scathing critique of the FM radio dial, steams with Ketels on drums, Al on bass and a pair of monsters on lead guitar, Roger Miller of Milk and Honey and Dave Malam, who add both country and blues-influenced siren guitar voices alongside Longnecker’s honkytonk piano providing a hot jumping roadside adventure that ends in a smoking guitar duel with an over-the-edge Eacret laughing at our current radio choices, “Why don’t you talk? Come on, Talk to Me Now”
ALL IN GOOD TIME, a summer balad by Eacret rolls over a finger-picking guitar line, with synth accents and occasional sun-flecked harmonies by Ledeboer. Lovely and intimate, it’s a reflection on the sweetness of love in marriage.
In FAITH IN MYSELF, Ledeboer’s powerful yet introspective vocal both yearns for and breathes the confidence of which Eacret writes, amidst bass, guitar and beautifully restrained drums by Ketels, and accompanied by the gentle lapping of piano measures against the shore of solid and warm bass and walking guitar lines. This memorable anthem, a combination of fragility and strength, meanders long after through the mind.
Eacret’s vocal in SOMETHING’S GOTTA HOLD ON ME conveys the feeling that one’s passion can overtake one, and is supported by a relentless bass line, punching drums, soaring slide guitar licks and driving/screaming keyboards. Together with the occasional plaintive saxophone, these make this song the maelstrom of music and feeling that it is, with a final optimistic note.
On BEIJING MAN, Al opens the book on relations with China, both decrying the U.S. and its new partner for following the bottom line, with a lack of hope in the concert of new associations between the two. A ballad of disillusionment is underscored by Longnecker on the piano, Willa on synth, Jeff’s slide guitar speaking out eloquently against the backdrop of McGourty’s drums and the boxy vocal and ethereal harmonies during the chorus add to the mechanized lack of love.
I’LL BE GOOD TO YOU, the final song, is a warm portrait of recommitting to a mature relationship. Ketel’s understated drums, Al’s melodic guitar lines, undercurrent of bass (so in the pocket with Ketels) and Longnecker’s always beautiful keyboards alongside help Ledeboer’s sweet sincerity shine through on this track. An up-feeling balad with a whimsical lilt, Eacret and Ledeboer close out the set on the slow train, one that will carry us all into an uncertain future, where the only thing that is certain is the strength of human feeling.