Release Date: Out Now
I can’t be the only who has been waiting patiently but anxiously for this album to surface and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been revelling in all its glory since its release 10 days ago. If you haven’t witnessed my steadily growing love affair with American trio X Ambassadors, then shame on you but I’ll forgive you if you get down with this latest album. Now. ‘Orion’ is the sound of a band at peak creativity with no limits on their style or pigeonholes to fit in to and if you enjoy good song writing as well as superb musicianship then strap this one on.
‘Hey Child’ gets things going and its as strong a start as you could hope form. A rubber band bass line and Viking drums are matched with a casually whistled melody before Sam Harris lets fly on those amazingly powerful pipes for the first time. A chorus that was born to make crowds go wild follows and if this doesn’t start you salivating then you might be seriously dehydrated. Up next is ‘Confidence’ featuring guest vocals from San Franciscan label mate K. Flay and it’s a song that I can contest has a serious earworm of a vocal melody in the chorus. Floating and laid back vibes underpin the duet between Harris and K.Flay who make a convincing pair with well paired harmonies.
The key to X Ambassadors is the ability to switch styles effectively and ‘Quicksand’ is the perfect example as the mood shifts down to a dirty blues vibe that reminds me of Aloe Blacc or Warren G but with that soulful vocal and smooth pop sensibility. Recent single ‘Boom’ is up next and aside from being my 4-year old’s favourite song right now is an infectious break-up song with a killer guitar line and defiant chorus. On ‘Rule’ the piano playing of Casey Harris comes to the fore as the trio slide into something a little more comfortable for a slinky number that is as woozy as it is seductive.
Possibly my favourite track on the album is the heartbroken acoustic strum of ‘History’ which documents the end of a relationship that you knew was ending set to the kind of MTV Unplugged melody that Pearl Jam would have pulled out in their prime. ‘Recover’ is a bombastic soul-pop anthem set to church organ and with a gospel choir backing that does away with any lingering thoughts you might have had about X Ambassadors being the real deal. Similarly, ‘Wasteland’ has a subtle chug to it that feels like Bruce Springsteen or Noah Gundersen and is all about memories of growing up, making it and getting through before returning to where it all started.
|Harris, Harris & Levin|
As we enter the home straight of this long player we are treated to ‘Shadows’, a song that would fit in on a playlist next to Years and Years but equally Elton John or Sam Smith such is the classic nature and timeless quality of this one. The bravest and most raw track of the album is ‘I Don’t Know How To Pray’ which is a rant at an unforgiving God set from Sam Harris set to the luscious keys played by brother Casey featuring lines like “Why do bad things happen to good people” followed by the set up “And God said” followed by….well, you’ll have to listen to hear that secret. The album closes out on the pop-ballad of ‘Hold You Down’ which is an ode to fraternal or non-romantic love that brings a tear to the eye and a lump to the throat.
This is an album about beginnings, endings, love, friendship and making it through life with people at your side who matter to you and who you matter to. Like a beacon in a storm, shining out through all the negativity, divisiveness and cynicism comes the music of X Ambassadors with the Harris brothers pointing the light and drummer Adam Levin keeping the rhythm steady throughout. It’s been a long time since I’ve fallen this hard for a band but when it’s right, it’s right and there’s no sense in fighting it.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/XAmbassadors/
26th June – Danforth Music Hall, Toronto w/Your Smith
28th June – Go 963 Fest @ the Cabooze, Minneapolis
30th June – The Pageant, St. Louis w/Your Smith
2nd July – House of Blues, Chicago w/Your Smith
4th July – Summerfest, Milwaukee
6th July – Festival Plaza, Windsor
14th July – Buffalo RiverWorks, Buffalo w/Silversun Pickups
18th July – Gallivan Center, Salt Lake City
27th July – Outagamie County Fair, Seymour
31st July – Ventura County Fairground, Ventura w/Styx + Melissa Etheridge + More
1st August – Festivent Ville de Levis, Levis
9th August – Ashley for the Arts, Arcadia
17th August – The Lawn at CAS, Columbus
18th August – Wonderbus Festival, Columbus
Listen Here: https://open.spotify.com/album/5YF8ms264wRnswVK1YMYmu?si=W5Q_z0ESQtO3A6koAkm1ag