August 5, 2009

Gaslight Revival

Boston, MA
Recorded and mixed by David Mansfield | Recorded at the Beauty Shop,
Randolph, MA | Mastered by David Mansfield at Hey Now Records in Boston

Virtually everything about Gaslight Revival’s debut Drift should sound familiar to anyone with any knowledge of folk-based rock music. Many of our favorite countryrock images pop up: people pass time in quiet fishing towns and on long and winding roads, waitresses just trying to get by work double shifts, men saddle up for long journeys, other men stare into coffee cups … you get the idea. Even though there’s hardly an original sound on the album, Gaslight Revival’s melancholy Americana makes for a compelling listen, proving that there’s a reason these images have stuck around. Do you like power ballads? There are 11 of them here. David Mansfield drawls with a baritone seemingly borrowed from Steve Earle and Trevor Jones does his vocal duties in a lonesome tenor, which perfectly conveys the heartache of tunes like “Crying.” Supported by Thin Lizzy-like distortion, Jones sings of an emotionally absent young woman (“She wears her emotions on her sleeve of tattoos”) who finally has a breakdown, a moment of self-realization, and an upswing of redemption. To a cynic, it sounds ready-made for CMT, but it is still a powerful song.

It’s easy to apply the alt-country tag, though the music has as much in common with mainstream country as it does with the No Depression sound. The folkrock mythology continues on the death-themed “From Behind the Stars,” in which the singer imagines a choir of angels playing electric guitars. A fiddle kicks off “I Lied,” which clips along with an up-tempo gallop straight out of an independent road movie. Guitar solos abound, including one that alludes to (of course) “Free Bird,” to the glee of inebriated concertgoers everywhere. With all of this, Gaslight Revival has the makings of a great bar band. Just don’t expect anything revolutionary, any more than you’d expect anything revolutionary from the bar itself. (Hey Now Records)
-Ryan Faughnder

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