Fledgling blues rock band Shadow & The Thrill is scheduled to release its new album Sugarbowl Friday through Deko Entertainment (ADA/Warner Music). The 10-song record is an offering that guitar rock purists are sure to appreciate. That is due in part to the record’s overall musical approach. This element will be addressed shortly. Its lyrical themes play their own part in the album’s overall presentation. The same can be said of the album’s sequencing. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the 39-minute album’s presentation. All things considered, they make Sugarbowl a surprisingly enjoyable presentation that rock purists will appreciate.
Shadow & The Thrill’s new album Sugarbowl is a “sweet” new offering from the duo of Tony Cardenas-Montana (Great White) and Brentt Arcement (Fiona Apple). That is due in no small part to the record’s musical arrangements. The arrangements in question run the proverbial gamut yet still manage to stay largely within the same stylistic range so to speak. Fans of Joe Bonamassa and Gary Moore will appreciate the infectious bluesy groove of ‘Unaware’ — the record’s penultimate song — with its searing, soulful riffs and gritty vocal deliveries. Much the same can be said of the even heavier blues rock arrangement presented in ‘Misery,’ which comes much earlier in the album’s run. The funky groove of ‘The Grind’ that is established in the song’s piano, rums and guitars meanwhile takes elements of 80s hair rock and crosses that with a touch of blues for a work that will appeal just as much to fans of bands like Motley Crue as it will to fans of Aerosmith. Yes, that sounds like one intriguing combination (and it is), but it works here somehow. The result is a work that is one of the most notable of the album’s arrangements. The album’s title track meanwhile lends itself to comparison to Bon Jovi’s famed song ‘Dead Or Alive’ with its stylistic approach and sound. ‘Ready To Roll,’ which serves as the album’s midpoint takes that noted Gary Moore influence and crosses it with a touch of Aerosmith and Joe Bonamassa influence for yet another unique presentation in its own right. It is just one more way in which Sugarbowl’s musical arrangements prove so important to the whole of its presentation. While the record’s collective arrangements go a long way toward ensuring listeners’ engagement and entertainment, they are only a portion of what makes the album so interesting. The album’s lyrical themes work with its musical arrangements to make the record even more worth hearing.
The lyrical themes that are featured throughout the course of Sugarbowl are worth noting because they are just as accessible as the album’s musical arrangements. Case in point is the lyrical content at the center of ‘The Grind.’ This song’s lyrical content leaves little doubt as to its theme. The note of “spent last night/Sleeping on the park bench/Till the cop came and moved me along…Mr. broken man/Mr. silver and gold/Mr. bustin’ my a**/Mr. all you can hold” and about “trying to find work” lends the song to be interpreted as being about someone just trying to make ends meet and get paid. To that end, it’s a theme that will connect with listeners with ease. It is just one of the themes that will connect with listeners, too. The album’s title track is another way in which the song’s lyrical content proves its importance to the record’s presentation.
‘Sugarbowl’ comes across as using the term “sugar bowl” as a metaphor for a couple’s relationship. Cardenas-Montana sings in the song that it’s “such a sad, sad story about a love that’s going dead.” He asks, “will there be a happy ending for our sugar bowl?” I other words, the song examines the state of a couple’s relationship as it reaches its breaking point. He even sings of the “sugarbowl” that “if it’s empty, I won’t refill it.” Again, there is zero doubt as to the song’s theme. Between the ease of understanding and the connection that audiences will make to the song’s topic, it is one more way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to the album’s presentation. ‘Ready To Roll’ is yet another way in which the album’s lyrical content shows its value to the record’s whole.
‘Ready To Roll’ comes across as a song that is about someone who is just trying to live his/her life. This is inferred as Cardenas-Montana sings in the song’s second verse, “No strings/Holding me down now/No fear/Nothing to lose/Well I got aches/My head is pounding/To the rhythm of the motor that rolls me over/I don’t have one single possession/Even sold my soul/Just to lighten the load/I spend my last five dollars…burnin’ rubber and ready to roll.” This is yet another topic to which plenty of listeners can relate. It is that matter of wanting and needing freedom, to just live. Once more, here audiences get a theme that is just as accessible as its companion musical arrangement, showing once again why the album’s lyrical content is just as important to its presentation as its musical arrangement. When it is considered along with the other noted lyrical themes and those featured in the rest of the album, the album’s overall lyrical content shows without doubt why it is its own important aspect of Sugarbowl. When it is considered with the album’s musical arrangements, the album becomes even more appealing. Even with that in mind, the album still has one more element to examine – its sequencing.
Sugarbowl’s sequencing is important to note on one hand because it switches up the songs’ stylistic approaches from one to the next while still managing to balance the songs’ energies at the same time. The album opens strong with ‘Lovesong.’ The album’s energy remains relatively stable from there even as the classic rock sound of ‘Lovesong’ gives way to the more southern/stoner rock vibe of ‘Misery.’ The energy level remains relatively stable from there as the next handful of songs are presented, each exhibiting its own classic rock style and sound. The record pulls back from there, using the second half of its presentation to slow things down considerably. Even though the album is slower from that point, the arrangements are still positive. They are not melancholy. Keeping that in mind, the album’s sequencing works with its arrangements to strengthen the record’s presentation even more. That, together with the album’s lyrical content makes the album in whole a presentation that every rock purist should hear at least once.
Shadow & The Thrill’s new album Sugarbowl is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining album. It is a work from two music industry veterans that every rock purist should hear at least once. That is proven in part through its catchy, infectious musical arrangements. The arrangements will appeal to fans of acts, such as Joe Bonamassa, Joe Satriani, Gary Moore, Motley Crue and even Aerosmith among so many others. From the guitars to the drums to the bass and vocals, each arrangement offers audiences plenty to appreciate. The arrangements’ companion lyrical themes are just as accessible as the music. They take on topics to which any listener will relate. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements, ensuring that the album’s energy remains stable from start to end even as the song styles change from one to the next. Each noted item is key in its own way to the whole of Sugarbowl. All things considered, they make the album one of the year’s top new rock albums and independent albums. Sugarbowl is scheduled for release Friday through Deko Entertainment (ADA/Warner Music Group).
More information on Shadow & The Thrill’s forthcoming album is available along with all of the group’s latest news at:
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