Review by Christine Mlodzik
The July Fighters call their new album, ‘Live and Let Live,’ their “most ambitious album to date.” I don’t know that I’d personally call it ambitious, but I would call it a departure from their previous albums.
I’ve listened to July Fighters’ self-titled and ‘Summer Rain’ albums, so I was looking forward to hearing new material. When the first track, ‘July Fighter’ started, I was surprised to hear the strains of a pedal steel guitar and an alt-country sound. It was not what I was expecting.
July Fighter is made up of Jimmy Lyback (vocals/electric and acoustic guitars), Spencer Franson (electric guitars/backup vocals), Tony Wilson (bass), Jin Lee (drums) and Jeff Buesing (pedal steel guitar).
‘Live and Let Live’ is a well-produced album, dense with harmonies and hooks bursting to leap out of the speakers. The guitars, bass and drums complement each other in the best way possible; each instrument has unexpected moments of dropping out, then coming back full force. There is a strong connection between the songs, and that’s only executed by the tightest bands.
‘Change of Guards’ is a standout track; unless my ears are mistaken, two tracks, ‘Summer Rain’ and ‘Echo,’ are remastered.
I can appreciate July Fighter trying a different sound, but I personally don’t like country in any incarnation. I liken this album to making a pot of chili, then deciding to add a completely different ingredient to the mix, like rosemary, for example. It will change the flavor and some will like the new taste, some won’t. (Don’t mistake that I actually know how to cook – but I do know how to make chili and I do know what too much rosemary does to food.)
I recommend you take a listen for yourself. If alt-country and a steel pedal guitar strike a chord with you, you’ll love ‘Live and Let Live.’