Promised Land Sound - For Use And Delight
Nashville's finest purveyors of febrile root-work psychedelia return with a dizzyingly accomplished second album that highlights an expanded band (including members of the Paperhead and Fly Golden Eagle); bigger, bolder arrangements featuring more and louder guitars, squally strings, and Steve Gunn; and road-ripened songwriting that veers between the frenetic and tender, recalling Jim Ford, the Pretty Things, the Grateful Dead, Dennis Linde, and the Byrds at their most eight-miles-fried. The current lineup likewise prominently features invaluable Nashville stalwarts Peter Stringer-Hye (The Paperhead) on additional vocals and rhythm guitar and polymath Mitch Jones (Fly Golden Eagle) on keyboards, as well as handling co-production and string arrangements on the record. That's Peter singing on "She Takes Me There" and "Northern Country Scene," and providing honey to Joe's vinegar on "Through the Seasons"; his chugging rhythm parts allow Sean space to explore the stratosphere. Mitch's complex but understated organ and electric piano parts color and thicken things throughout, providing a subtle glaze to the proceedings. Lest you think Promised Land Sound is a band that aspires to sound like the sum of their record collections, think again: the fact is that there just aren't many other bands writing and inhabiting rock and roll songs of this scale and structural and performative sophistication. The Chiltonisms and chiaroscuro of "She Takes Me There" recall Big Star, but not so much in sound as in sentiment--the melancholy dislocation of a Southern band in a Southern city, but existing strangely out of time and pushing beyond geography. Listen to the bittersweet swagger of "Otherwordly Pleasures" or "Oppression": despite the classic psych and pop influences, Promised Land Sound is in some essential sense a staunchly Southern band, unselfconscious classicists eager to anchor their songs in traditional forms while tearing at the edges of the vernacular.