Two decades ago on Sept. 11, 2001, Reckless Kelly was in the studio working on new material when the world stopped and watched a a group of evil, sick, twisted individuals took control of a group of planes and took the lives of almost 3,000 innocent Americans. While the world stopped, the band did what it does best, make music, all while watching in shock and sadness at what was happening at that moment. The decision to keep recording that music was itself a statement of defiance against those who would try to destroy America, that they and others like them would not win. Now 20 years later, the band marked the anniversary by releasing the music it was recording on that somber day in the form of “The 9/11 Demos.” The band’s new 16-song record was released on Sept. 11. It is an impressive new offering whose musical arrangements will appeal widely to audiences in themselves. This aspect will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements are appealing in their own way and will be examined a little later. The record’s sequencing brings everything together and completes the picture painted through this record. It will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation. All things considered, they make the album another must have for any Reckless Kelly fan and any casual fan of country music, folk, Americana, and even bluegrass.
Reckless Kelly’s recently released record, The 9/11 Demos is an impressive new offering from the veteran band. The 61-minute record will appeal equally to the band’s established audience base and to casual fans of country music, bluegrass, folk, and Americana. That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements. The arrangements are, for the most part, familiar territory for the band. That is because they so expertly balance the elements of the noted genres into one whole from one song to the next. Co-founder Willy Braun even said of the arrangements during a recent interview, “For the average listener, they’ll hear some familiar RK songs, albeit, different in structure and in their infant stage, as well as several previously unreleased songs that never found a home, but maybe should have.” Whether it be the somber, collected vibes of ‘May Peace Find You Tonight,’ the more energetic sense of ‘Me & My Baby’ or even something more middle ground (for lack of better wording), such as ‘I Saw It Coming,’ the arrangements each do an impressive job of presenting that familiar blend of musical influences for which the band has come to be known throughout its life. For all of the familiarity and enjoyment that the arrangements offer, there is one arrangement that is enjoyable even being less familiar in its stylistic approach. It comes late in the record’s run in the form of ‘I Hate That Guy,’ the album’s penultimate entry. While the band’s familiar country and bluegrass leanings are just as much on exhibit here as anywhere else in the album, the song’s arrangement also presents some distinct rock leanings. More specifically, Braun’s vocals alongside the song’s instrumentation immediately lend themselves collectively to comparisons to early works from Nirvana. It’s an odd comparison, yes, but it is there and it works so well. It really stands out as one of the album’s best works. Between that arrangement and so many others featured in this record, the overall musical picture painted in this album is rich and immersive. It gives audiences plenty to appreciate in itself and is just one of the items that makes the album successful. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements add even more to that success.
The lyrical themes that accompany The 9/11 Demos’ musical content are important to address because they are just as accessible as that noted content. For instance, ‘Snowfall,’ the album’s opener presents a lyrical theme that comes across as being about being out on the road. In this case, it proves different from so many similar style songs because it is not just about missing being home. Yes, there is there in the song’s lead verse, but the second verse turns the tables a bit, with Braun singing about the pleasure in getting back out on the road and finding a certain freedom. It is a unique take on a familiar topic that is certain to connect with audiences through that original approach.
On a separate note, a song, such as ‘Me & My Baby’ is just as familiar in its lyrical theme. In this case, the song is a celebratory work in which the subject is head over heels for a woman. Again, it is another familiar topic across the musical universe. The way in which the topic is approached here makes just as certain that it will appeal to audiences.
On yet another note, ‘Wicked Twisted Road,’ the album’s contemplative finale, is yet another example of the importance of the record’s lyrical themes. In this case, the song finds its subject looking back at his life, not so much with regret, but with that deeply noted contemplation. It is simply a rich rumination on where the subject was and where he is today. There is no real oh woe is me here, but rather, just deep thought. It is another familiar lyrical theme that is once again used across the musical universe, and is just as accessible in this presentation as in any other case. When the accessibility of this theme is considered along with the other themes examined here and the rest of the record’s themes, the whole joins with the album’s equally accessible and enjoyable musical arrangements to make the overall content more than enough reason for audiences to hear The 9/11 Demos. Taking this into account, the overall content is just a part of what makes the album work. The sequencing of that content rounds out the album’s most important items.
The 9/11 Demos’ sequencing is important because of its role in the album’s general effect. The sequencing takes into full account, the musical and lyrical content that makes up the album’s body. In taking this into account, the energies exhibited in each arrangement keep the record progressing fluidly from one song to the next. The lyrical themes change just enough from one song to the next, too, through the sequencing. The result is that the lyrical themes ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment just as certainly as its musical arrangements. Taking all of this into mind, the sequencing shows that plenty of time and thought went into this album’s sequencing. Those behind the record’s creation showed that they did not just toss the songs together in random fashion. There was deliberate direction in the sequencing, and it paid off fully from one song to the next. The positive impact of the expert sequencing works with the equally positive impact of the record’s content to make the record in whole another successful entry from Reckless Kelly.
Reckless Kelly’s recently released album, The 9/11 Demos is a strong new offering from the veteran country/rock band. Its success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements prove successful in their own right because they are familiar in their sounds and stylistic approaches. At the same time they still boast their own identities separate from the band’s existing catalog. The lyrical themes that accompany the noted musical content make for their own appeal. They prove important because they are just as familiar and accessible as the noted musical content. The sequencing of that collective content puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation. That is because it takes the noted content into full account in attempting to keep listeners engaged and entertained. It succeeds in this avenue, too. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make the overall album one of the best of this year’s new country/bluegrass/folk/Americana albums.
In related news, Reckless Kelly is in the midst of a tour in support of its new album. The band’s upcoming tour dates are noted below.
10/1: San Antonio, TX – Sam’s Burger Joint
10/8: Omaha, NE – Barnato
10/9: Mills, WY – Beacon Club
10/10: Missoula, MT – The Wilma
10/12: Bend, OR – Tower Theatre
10/13: Stanley, ID – Mountain Village Resort
10/14: Stanley, ID – Mountain Village Resort
10/15: Garden City, ID – Revolution Concert House
10/16: Pocatello, ID – Stephens Performing Art Center
10/17: Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
10/18: Fort Collins, CO – Washington’s
10/21: Oklahoma City, OK – Tower Theatre
10/22: Fort Smith, AR – Temple Live
10/29: Fredericksburg, TX – The Backyard Amphitheater
11/10: Newport Beach, CA – Campus Jax
11/11: San Luis Obispo, CA – Fremont Theater
11/12: Felton, CA – Felton Music Hall
11/13: Berkeley, CA – Cornerstone Craft Beer & Live Music
11/14: Petaluma, CA – Mystic Theatre
11/16: Reno, NV – Virginia Street Brewhouse11/18: Amarillo, TX – Hoot’s Pub
11/20: Hawkins, TX – Red Rooster Icehouse
4/2/2022: Houston, TX – 713 Music Hall
The 9/11 Demos is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Reckless Kelly’s latest news at:
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