The Magpie Salute’s ‘High Water II’ Is A Flawless Follow-Up To 2018’s ‘High Water’

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Mascot Label Group/Sony

Roots rock band The Magpie Salute released its third full-length studio recording Friday, and the 12-song record is an enjoyable follow-up to the band’s 2018 album High Water.  Throughout the course of the record, audiences get musical arrangements that easily liken themselves to works from the likes of The Allman Brothers Band and its offshoot acts – The Derek Trucks Band and Tedeschi Trucks Band – as well as hints of Black Crowes.  The Black Crowes comparison should come as no surprise, considering the fact The Magpie Salute members Chris Robinson, Marc Ford and Sven Pipien also performed and recorded together as part of Black Crowes.  The album’s lyrical content offers audiences just as much to enjoy as its familiar roots tock sound.  ‘Gimme Something,’ which comes early in the album’s run is just one of the songs featured in the album that supports the noted statements.  It will be discussed shortly.  The same applies to ‘Lost Boy,’ which is featured later in the album’s run, and ‘You And I,’ which comes just ahead of the album’s midway point.  Each song shows in its own way why the band’s continued familiar roots rock sound and its respective lyrical content is so important to the album’s whole.  When each of the songs is considered with the rest of the album’s works, the whole of High Water II proves to be another record from The Magpie Salute into which listeners will enjoy “diving.”  Yes, that terrible pun was intended.

The Magpie Salute’s second High Water album and third overall album is another impressive recording from the roots rock super group, which features members of Black Crowes and the Chris Robinson Band.  That is thanks to its musical and lyrical content.  That is proven early on in the 47-minute record’s run in the form of ‘Gimme Something.’  This song’s musical arrangement is driven largely by the time keeping of drummer Joe Magistro and keyboardist Matt Slocum.  Pipien’s work on the bass joins with the work of Magistro and Slocum to make the song even more infectious while Robinson’s gravelly vocal delivery adds even more of a unique touch to the song.  Those lines, joined with the mtulti-guitar approach to the song, makes the arrangement in whole a work that is certain to become a fan favorite both on disc and in live settings.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, of course.  The song’s lyrical content sits against that catchy, mid-tempo arrangement to add to the song’s interest.

Robinson sings in the song’s lead verse, “I wanna see summer skies around me/To hit my soul when that beam of light comes shining down (Only you can see this)/Ph, the pressure fills me/The clouds, they light up the night sky/The moon, it hangs like a portrait of me facing upside down (You don’t believe it)/The ground is shifting/Gimme something/To take me far away from here/Gimme something/To lift this cloud/Gimme something/Got to take me higher/Gimme something/Deliver me now.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “This world could be such a beautiful baby/But the politik disease keeps driving us underground (I don’t believe it)/We cannot accept it/Long is the day and Long is the night/I light the way ‘cause I feel like it’s gonna be alright (No, you don’t believe it)/Never can accept it.”  He returns to the chorus again from here before launching into the song’s third verse, in which he sings, “Peace comes your way (ah, well)/When you live by love and harmony (oh, harmony)/And I’ll show you today/these cards I deal/And bring you to my game.”  He comes across here as saying that he wants something better than what the world is right now and ho bad things are because of forces such as the people in Washington D.C. for starters.  He ends by reminding listeners that things can be better if people would just come together.  Sure, this is hardly the first time that any band has presented such message of frustration and the desire for people to unite.  The thing is though, it is still a message that everyone needs to hear, considering where the world sits today.  Considering this and the overall positive vibe in the song’s lyrical and musical content, the end result is a song that is easily one of High Water II’s most notable works and one that shows so well, why the album is another hit from TMS.  It is just one of the album’s notable works, too.  ‘Lost Boy’ is another entry featured in the album that shows why the album’s musical and lyrical content makes the record so appealing.

Whereas ‘Gimme Something’ presents an upbeat, positive vibe through its combined musical and lyrical content, ‘Lost Boy’ is a much more reserved piece in the exact same way.  The song, which features famed singer Alison Krauss making a guest vocal performance, is a deeply emotional work that will tug at listeners’ heartstrings through its very country blues approach.  Even more interesting here is that Robinson’s vocal delivery here actually sounds just like the late great Tom Petty.  The addition of Krauss’ gentle backing vocals enriches the song even more, making its emotional impact even more powerful.  Even more interesting is that while the song is far more reserved than much of what is featured in High Water II, that reserved nature is key because this song really is a ballad of sorts; almost a lullaby of sorts.  It is actually a very positive piece in its own right.  That is made clear through the lyrical content that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement.

Robinson sings in the song’s lead verse, “Young man, how you’ve grown/You’re soon to be on your own/And I’ll miss you like I’ve missed most of my life/I see you once again/Much more than a friend/Much more than someone to pass the time/Lost boy, in-between/Seldom heard, rarely seen/Lost boy, let me tell you what you mean to me/It’s okay/to get a little lonely/In no way let it get you down/There’s more than one way/Come on, get to know me/Lost boy, let me tell you what you mean to me.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Not so long ago/I had come to know/The long, dark night/It put me to the test/Nothing I can say/To change the time of day/And you’ll shine a little brighter than the mist/Lost boy, turn around/Lift your head, hear the sond/Lost boy, let me tell you what you mean to me/It’s okay/If you get a little lonely/In no way, let it keep you down/There’s more than one way/Come on, get to know me/Lost boy, let me tell you what you mean to me.”  This is an extremely touching work, needless to say.  The song’s subject seems to be trying to comfort someone, perhaps a son or maybe even a runaway.  There is no booklet with any notes to explain the story behind this song,  That aside, it is clear that this song is meant to be a soothing lullaby type work that will put at ease, someone who is going through a lot of emotional strain.  That gentle approach, both musically and lyrically makes this song its own unique and important addition to High Water II.  As unique as the song is, it is just one more of the album’s most notable works.  ‘You And I’ is just as notable as ‘Lonely Boy’ and ‘Gimme Something.’

‘You And I’ conjures thoughts of Country Joe McDonald and to The Allman Brothers through its musical arrangement.  The song’s verses are more gentle and laid back, and do indeed conjure thoughts of Country Joe McDonald.  The song’s stronger chorus sections are more akin to The Allman Brothers Band’s works.  The song’s lyrical content is just as interesting as its musical content because it leaves listeners wondering and talking.  On the one hand, it comes across as a love song, but on another hand, it also comes across as possibly a break-up song.  This is inferred as Robinson sings in the song’s chorus, “The feeling is over.”  This after he also sings, “You and I overcome/Others block our way.”  He does also note, in the choruses, “But this feeling keeps on falling over me.  When this is considered against the mentions of two people walking under the clouds at night and so much more, one can’t help but assume that this is a breakup song.  What is interesting is that while it comes across as a breakup song, it does not come across as the standard breakup song.  It comes across in a hopeful tone rather than the typical sad note.  It is a good change of pace for such a matter.  To that end, that change of pace both lyrically and musically makes this song worthy of its own attention.  When it is considered alongside ‘Gimme Something’ and ‘Lonely Boy,’ the trio goes a long way to showing why High Water II is such a positive new offering from The Magpie Salute.  When they are considered alongside the rest of the album’s entries, the end result is a record that is a wonderful salute in its own right to classic and roots rock fans.

The Magpie Salute’s third full-length studio recording High Water II, the follow-up to last year’s High Water is a strong new offering from the roots rock super group.  That is due to its musical and lyrical content throughout, as has been evidenced through the three songs examined here.  When they are considered alongside the rest of the album’s entries, the end result is an album that roots rock fans will enjoy just as much as The Magpie Salute’s most devoted audiences.  High Water II is available now through Eagle Rock Entertainment and Universal Music.  More information on High Water II is available along with all of The Magpie Salute’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://themagpiesalute.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheMagpieSalute

Twitter: http://twitter.com/themagpiesalute

 

More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

More information on this and other titles from Universal Music is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.universalmusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/UniversalMusicGroup

Twitter: http://twitter.com/UMG

 

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‘Give Up The Ghost’ Is A Solid Start For Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights

 

Courtesy: High Road Publicity

A little more than a month ago, a little band by the name of Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights released its debut EP Give Up The Ghost. The five track record is the type of presentation that shows how easily today’s unsigned band could be tomorrow’s next big mainstream hit.  It shows this through the diversity in its musical arrangements and the depth of its collective lyrical content.  From the infectious southern rock riffs and happy-go-lucky lyrics of ‘Hollywood’ to the Foo Fighters-esque arrangement and equally playful lyrics of ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ to the Jimmy Eat World style arrangement and thoughtful lyrics of ‘Burn It Down’ and beyond, this record is a solid start for Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights.  It is a record that leaves listeners hoping this band won’t give up the ghost any time soon.

Paul Johnson & The About Last Night’s debut EP Give Up The Ghost is a strong start for the Mississippi-based unsigned rock outfit.  That is due to the solid mix of musical genres on which the band touches over the course of the record’s five-song, 18-minute run and its lyrical content.  The record’s penultimate song ‘Hollywood’ is just one of the songs included in this record that supports that statement.  The song’s guitar-driven musical arrangement is easily likened to arrangements composed by Black Stone Cherry, Buckcherry, The Black Crowes and other similar acts.  Band namesake and vocalist Paul Johnson even conjures thoughts of Buckcherry front man Josh Todd (at least in this critic’s ears) through his vocal delivery here.  When that is set alongside the amalgam of musical influences evident in the song’s arrangement, it makes the arrangement instantly infectious and certain to be a fan favorite.

The song’s musical arrangement is only one part of what makes it notable.  Its lyrical content, like its musical arrangement also conjures thoughts of the aforementioned acts and will put a smile on any listener’s face with its tribute to all of the things that make the south great.  That tribute is evident as Johnson sings, “You know I like to see my toes in the sand/You couldn’t drag me away from Dixieland/Kinda got the feeling you won’t/Just take another breath/Don’t/Don’t take me to Hollywood/Keep me in the south where the weather is good/Southern girls doin’ like they should/Don’t take me/Don’t take me to Hollywood.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “I always see how they like to put us down/Don’t really care for the big town/Kinda got the feeling you won’t/Just take another breath/Don’t/Don’t take me to Hollywood.”  Plain and simple, this is a tribute to the band’s home state and region, being that the band is from Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  That upbeat, playful tribute, when coupled with the song’s musical arrangement makes the song in whole one of the record’s best offerings if not its best.  Collectively, they make this song a clear example of what makes Give Up The Ghost such a standout offering and solid start from Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights.  It is only one of the songs that serves to support these statements.  ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ is another song that shows why this record stands out.

‘Hollywood’ with its simple title, lyrical content and musical approach is a clear example of what makes Give Up The Ghost a solid first effort from Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights.  It musical arrangement and lyrical alike are both so infectious thanks to their simplicity.  As impressive as it is, it is only one of the songs included in this record that makes the EP stand out.  ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ is another example of what makes this record worth hearing.  As with ‘Hollywood,’ that is due in part to the song’s musical arrangement.  The alignment of the song’s guitar and keyboards couples with Johnson’s vocal delivery to instantly conjure thoughts of Foo Fighters.  Drummer Zach Lewis’ time keeping adds to that comparison even more.  From start to finish, the song’s arrangement easily keeps listeners engaged.  It is only one part of what makes the song so enjoyable.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.

Unlike the lyrical theme presented in ‘Hollywood,’ this song’s lyrical theme clearly centers on a woman.  That is inferred easily in the song’s chorus in which Johnson and his band mates sing, “She’s in love/With a fast car/Burn out…./She’s a new American story…little worry.  Deciphering the full extent of the words is difficult without lyrics to which one can refer.  However, between this and other elements that can be deciphered, it becomes clear that Johnson and company are singing about a woman.  That is especially certified in the song’s final moments as the band sings in unison, “She keeps my fantasies alive”  All things considered it is clear that the band is paying tribute to a woman or a certain type of woman.  It stands completely apart from the theme of ‘Hollywood’ and the rest of the record’s songs, and is just as upbeat as those other themes.  Keeping that in mind, when this tribute is set alongside the song’s equally upbeat musical arrangement, the pairing makes the song in whole stand solidly on its own merits; merits that make the song yet another example of what makes the EP such a surprise.  It is not the last of the songs that stands out on the record either.  ‘Burn It Down’ is notable, too.

‘Hollywood’ and ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ both show in their own way that Give Up The Ghost is one of this year’s top new EPs.  The songs’ musical arrangements and lyrical themes stand out from one another just as much as they do the record’s other featured songs.  As much as they stand out, they are not its only key compositions.  ‘Burn It Down’ is one more of the record’s key songs.  As with the previously discussed songs, that is due in part to the song’s arrangement.  This time around, listeners minds will go to Jimmy Eat World in listening to this arrangement right from the song’s outset.  This critic easily could be wrong, but the song’s lyrical content seems like a coming-of-age story of sorts.  That is inferred as Johnson sings in the song’s lead verse, “I dropped out of school to find my way/A dirty kid in football games/A loser on the street/Had a hunger for the underneath/A family divorced too much to bear/The misinformed will meet you there/Like the liars and the delphines/Is there nothing left for a kid to believe…the pain of knowing I may never feel better off than where I started.”  The story continues in the song’s second verse and ends with a mention of a “21-gun salute to disobey” in the finale.  The song’s chorus, in which the song’s subject seemingly looks back on the past in another way, adds even more depth to the song.  When this is all considered along with the song’s musical arrangement, the whole of the song’s musical and lyrical content makes fully clear why this song stands out.  Collectively, the depth of that musical and lyrical content—and its distinct identity separate from ‘Hollywood,’ ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ and the record’s other two songs—shows even more why the EP in whole stands out, too.  When it is joined with all of the EP’s other offerings, the record in whole proves, once more, why it is one of this year’s top new EPs, an equally solid start for Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights, and a record that will leave listeners hoping the band won’t “give up the ghost” anytime soon.

Give Up The Ghost is a surprisingly impressive first effort from Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights.  The record only spans five songs and 18-minutes, but in that run, the record exhibits great musical and lyrical diversity.  From start to finish, each song presents its own identity, separate from its counterparts.  From fun-loving to truly in-depth, the songs present a wide range of emotions in both music and lyrics.  All things considered, the record proves to be one of the year’s best new EPs, and gives hope that the band won’t “give up the ghost” any time soon.  More information on Give Up The Ghost is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pauljohnsonmusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pauljohnsonandtheaboutlastnights

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pauljohnsonsolo

 

 

 

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