Wow, there is so much to talk about here! First, what a groovy, wonderful album this is. The pairing of songstress Leslie Wenzell and virtuoso Dan Akira is perfect. The concept of the group, the personalities, the production, the music and the performances are all unified in fantasticness and we’ve fallen completely in love with Summer Children.
Though some might rush over this release as a retro gimmick, it’s anything but. It’s a rootsy, country, Americana album with a serious time travel syndrome, but behind this retro wrapper, there’s an amazing level of songwriting and performing talent at work. Whatever the genre or catch phrase people would describe Summer Children as, there is depth of concept and a richness of human talent here that makes this a really special release.
This album is relevant in relation to many, many things happening in music right now. Looking for substance in what they want to say, there are lots of new artists similarly going back and finding inspiration in vintage music, though few are doing it as well – or with as much fun – as Summer Children. You also have roots music dominating the hipster scene (just try getting a coffee or slice of pizza without hearing Hank Williams!) and the 70’s are suddenly “in” again, so they’re right on time with their schtick.
There’s also a vacuum of quality “country” music coming out of Nashville as demographics and sales figures have created a soul-less and top-heavy corporate machine there that seems to be crushing any original or innovative thought. At the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Summer Children is putting out the kind of music now that made Nashville great in the first place. Hopefully, the stars will align for them and they’ll find a critical mass of fans. Maybe with a break out track, Summer Children could become the “big” band of the moment. Their music is more than good enough to make this happen.
The album is produced by Adam Marsland, an artist who we wrote about two years ago when he released his album The Owl And The Full Moon, and who we like quite a lot. One of the tracks from that album, The Man In The Empty Suit, is a staple on the playlist at our live events and – in addition to being both a great artist and producing partner here – he’s well worth investigating on his own. His contemporary pop-rock sensibilities give Summer Children an edge and a driven timing that keep the music from descending too far down memory lane. Making a vintage-esque album is doubly difficult as the artists need to both make great music, but also to do it within a pre-determined space, and Adam Marsland’s touch not only accomplishes that, but lets the artists be free to define their own space and time.
Summer Children’s beautiful and detailed retro ornamentation is an extension of a rock-solid foundation of great songwriting and performances, and there’s such mass and substance here that it’s inspiring and exciting as pure music, whatever the description of it’s outward genre. Summer Children rocks, rolls and grooves to it’s own beat and it is THE album to get right now.
This album also comes at a unique time in music. Some things will forever stay the same, like the sound of a campfire guitar, but technology and business have conspired of late to rob artists of the value of their work. The “content” that they work so hard to compile has been devalued online to a subserviant place as “bait” for traffic. You can’t fight city hall, but what Summer Children have done here is to re-establish the vibrance and value of traditional music in the modern space. This album reminds us how special and rare and valuable music is when it comes from a place of personal dedication and affection.
Whatever year it is, whatever fads or trends are coming or passing, some things stay the same. The more things change, the more they stay the same. In retrospective, we see the great things that artists of the past accomplished and people try to emulate and recapture their specialness. What Summer Children have done here with Adam Marsland is to create new, original, individual and fantastic music that warrants appreciation and respect on every level. On the surface it’s a trip down memory lane, but that’s just the sparkle on the surface, it’s really a genius Americana roots album that both defies, and will stand the test of time on it’s substantial merits.
Get it here! http://karmafrog.com/store.html