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Handful of Luvin'

Life In Between

(Self-released; US: 30 Jan 2010; UK: Import)

Restless band records lively songs, for the most part

Handful of Luvin’ is a chameleon of a band, shape-shifting from reggae-rock to countryesque to folkie on consecutive tracks of their third CD, Life In Between. The country tinge is the most convincing, as on the explosive, galloping “There’s No Right, There’s No Wrong”, but the midtempo reggae ‘n’ roll of opener “Born Lucky” and “Kickdrum” has its own visceral appeal. Instrumentation follows the standard four-piece template—often substituting Andrew Joslyn’s violin for keyboards—but judicious use of other sounds like trumpet and clarinet prevent things from settling into predictability. David John’s expressive vocals add punch, too. The album loses steam when in singer-songwriter mode, which tends to be downtempo and dull, but for every clunker like “Washington” or “Lazy Men”, there’s a much more rewarding “Treaty” or “Bomb Bomb” right around the corner. And penultimate track “Harry Met Rona” is just a straight-up Irish reel, electrified, à la Fairport Convention. What was that about chameleons again?

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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Handful of Luvin' plays on the Seattle Ferry for Seattle Weekly
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