Audio Moonshine - Let's Be
<Ripple Effect Review, May 2009>
For whatever reason, I've got a long history with this disc and a lot of apologizing to do. You see, the good folks at Audio Moonshine sent this rootsy treat to our Ripple office nigh on a year ago. After falling head over heels in love with the track, "Slow Motion," I just didn't quite know what to do with the rest. See, at the time, we were being flooded with metal and such, and the down home, countryish feeling to Audio Moonshine's brew just didn't connect with me. But still, I knew there was something there, and over the next year, wouldn't you know, the Audio Moonshine disc kept creeping into my CD player. Time after time. Finally, like lightning coming from the sky, it all clicked, and from that moment Let's Be has become one of my favorite all-time Ripple discs. And that's saying something.
What I got wrong on first listen was thinking this was country music, and convincing myself that I don't like country music. What the fine moonshiners brew up in their Idaho backyard bathtub isn't country at all, it's just exceptionally written, impeccably performed, immaculately crafted roots rock Americana with a heapin' helping of pop smarts. The closest comparison I can give you is along the lines of Sister Hazel, and if you're a fan of that band, I can nearly guarantee that Audio Moonshine should find a place in your liquor cabinet. . . er, CD collection. Starting from the first scratched acoustic chords of the title track, we're on an Americana treasure hunt here, ambling down the dusty roads of Boise, Idaho, leisurely uncovering one gem after another. Twanging guitar jumps in next, followed by Jake Ransom's deeply soulful, beautifully expressive, slightly affected vocals. The melody here is a natural, flowing out slow and easy like an Idaho river, and Jake tosses out snippets of his quirky wisdom like some modern philosopher; my favorite line being "I don't know why my ADD gets control of me/it's like natural speed." Perfect harmonizing female vocals aid in the chorus, which is as tightly crafted as the best of Tom Petty.
"I Can't Breathe," is another stunner, riding a rolling guitar intro over a mid-tempo beat. The boys let the band breathe naturally, organically, building up steam in it's tale of lost love. "Crazy," is a killer cut, kicking off with some fine finger-picking acoustic, while Ransom spins his northwestern/country wisdom, all the way to another mule kick-in-the head gem of a chorus. Hearing this I think of the best of the Gin Blossoms, if you can remember how in their day they could move effortlessly through a tune. But without a doubt, the stunner on the album is the track that tattooed this disc in my head, even before I knew I liked it, "Slow Motion." Unlike it's name, this gem moves at it's own damn happy clip, dancing across the guitar, harmonica, mouth harp opening, right into one of the best damn vocal hooks I've heard in ages. The band jumps in at the chorus, propelling this one into footstomping territory, drops it back down, then kicks it up again to it's raving, hand's clapping over your head, midsection. The rest of the disc flows out just as easily, absolutely perfect craft. Play this one at your backyard BBQ party and just wait for the folks to come up asking "who that damn band is." Don't hesitate to answer, just pour them a big mug full of this moonshine and let the high times follow.
released May 5, 2009
The Audio Moonshiners
Jake Ransom- Vocals, Acoustic/Electric Guitars, Bass
Chad Waite- Drums, Vocals, Percussion
Jamie Vink- Bass
Steve Fulton- All Hammond/Rhodes & Lead Guitar on (#3,5,6,8,9,12)
Kelly Martin- Acoustic/Electric Guitar & Vocals on (#4,5,8,10,11,12,13)
Becca Gourley- Fiddle/Violin & Vocals on (#4,5,8,11,12,13)
David Andrews- Exceptional Guitar and Vocal work on “Crazy” & “Not Today”
Dan Costello- Smokin’ Harmonica on “Slow Motion”
Larry Kiser- Melodic Lap Steel on “Easy”
Stephen “Fritz” Mathie- Rockin’ the Cello with Attitude on “I Can’t Breathe”
Jason Roark- Piano, Vocals, Keys, and Stunning Production of “Simple Song”
Rebecca Scott- Responsible for the Beautiful/Soulful Vocals on “Not Today”
Christine Thomas- Layin Down the Angelic Vocals on “Lets be…”
-of course Kelly “Skip” Morrison for all your help and Band LOOT!
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