Singer-songwriters Debbie Andrews and Mike Blaxill front this quintet that’s equal parts Poco and Posies; great harmony-laced pop with a touch of 1970’s California. Infectious songs like “Feel You” and “Running Past Rosetta” should be drop-kicking inferior tripe off radio playlists everywhere. They have everything—singalong hooks, strong harmonies, efficient but great guitar solos. Especially “Rosetta”; it’s as if someone found the great lost Buckingham/Nicks track and turned it loose.
Classical/jazz-influenced Debbie Andrews’ work on Wurlitzer and Hammond B3 just as often adds a hip and dreamy edge to the material. She sings lead on only one track, but her harmonies with guitar troubadour Blaxill are picture-perfect. Backed by experienced session musicians whose resumes range from Blood Sweat & Tears to Duncan Shiek, these two opposites attract and blend their styles well together. Most of the material, solidly written, straddles the void between melodic countryish pop (Fleetwood Mac and the early Eagles) and modern Americana artists like The Jayhawks. It’s well produced, earnest pop that is appealing on many layers.
But Blaxill’s vocals (a playful Lyell Lovett crossed with a funky James Taylor?) might be at least as valuable to the mix. When he’s singing lead, you’re left wondering where you heard that voice before. Then you realize that you haven’t—it’s just that you can’t imagine someone with pipes like that not being better known. Ditto this band, and ditto this record. Gladshot is one of the nicest surprises I’ve had all year.
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// Notes from the Road
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