Thursday, May 12, 2011
CD of the Day, 5/12/11: Smith & Hayes-Volume II
Clay Smith and Bill Hayes burst upon the power pop scene in 2007 with Changed by a Song, a classic steeped in the sounds of The Beatles and Jeff Lynne that has to be on the short list of top power pop albums of the previous decade. Four years later, the followup is ready. And while Changed by a Song is a tough act follow, Volume II is a solid, worthy successor.
The main difference this time around is that they go for a more direct Beatlesque sound rather than the Beatles-via-Lynne style on the debut. This becomes apparent right off the bat with "Learning How to Love", which owes a debt to "Instant Karma", but doesn't slavishly imitate that track, offering a wondefully melodic chorus that's all their own. After the ballad "All the Love in the World" comes the midtempo McCartneyesque "All Your Life", which mines Macca's late 60s/early 70s sound. Also a treat is the breezy "Wake Up to Now", which fills the George Harrison change-of-pace role.
The album's standout is the uber-catchy "Turn it Up", a direct Beatle homage that starts off with the line "It was 40 years ago today", and name drops Murray The K and refers to various points in Beatle history. Other highlights include the lovely ballad "Save the Day", the Eastern sounds of "The Road to Bodhicitta", the "Honey Pie"-like "Fab", and the rocker "For a Chance" which draws on "I've Got a Feeling". And in case you were still wondering about the extent of Beatle influence, they throw in a slowed-down cover of "You Won't See Me". Once again, the sheer joy of their love for Beatlesque music shines through, making this a must-have for anyone who loved the first album.
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