The disc’s 12 tracks are full of dreamy pop with a 70’s vibe. One could liken it to the jingle-jangle feel of The Byrds, with a plethora of instruments creating a full and satiated sound. The effervescence of each song leaves the album sounding softer, smoother and a little less strident than their previous albums.
The album kicks off with two sprightly sounding songs: “Born to Love You” and “Babyface” – both consisting of spot-on, mellow harmonies. “Look At Me Now” is an upbeat and catchy tune with buoyant guitar riffs, while a more subdued “Trip Around the World” makes excellent use of the ukulele. (I’m always a sucker for a good ukulele song.)
In the sweet and soulful ballad, “Have You Been Cheated,” Blake brings the lyrics to life as he sings, “You put all your best words in your worst song and you can’t bear to sing it when they won’t sing along.”
The album closes on a bittersweet note with “Time is Coming,” where among the soft and melodic guitar, Blake sings “Will you hold me if I cry, will you miss me if I die? Will you come and heal my wounds?”
At the band’s record release gig at the Troubador in LA on May 17, Blake proved he has lost none of the passion or intensity he had on prior tours of either of his bands.
Opening with a cover of Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky,” Blake and the boys then dove into “Babyface,” before treating the crowd to “I’ll Be Your Man,” from 2006’s “Sun Sun Sun”.
During the few moments between songs when the venue was quiet, members of the audience started shouting out songs they wanted to hear. Most of them yelled out “Ripchord” (a song off of Rilo Kiley’s 2004 album, “More Adventurous”) while others requested The Elected’s “Bank and Trust,” which Blake himself admitted he didn’t know how to play anymore.
At live shows, I feel like the audience should just let them play what they play. There’s a set list for a reason. If the band asks for requests, then by all means speak up, but otherwise, just let them do their thing. I know fans want to hear their old favorites, but sometimes you have to let your favorite artists share their new material with you. That’s why they’re there. That’s why they’re excited and why they’ve been rehearsing over and over to give you the best performance they can.
Anyway, back to the show. After a few more songs off the new album – “Born to Love You,” “Have You Been Cheated,” and “Where Are You” – and after a little tuning problem with the guitar during “Time Is Coming,” they played a fan favorite “Biggest Star,” which had Blake rocking out, while belting “Honey, I can’t lose!”
For the encore, they only played one song: “A Response to Greed” from 2004’s “Me First”--leaving hungry fans salivating for more when the lights came up. I’m sure I speak for the rest of the crowd when I say the show was a big success and a great way to welcome back a guy who’s been gone from the music scene way too long. (Sure, it’s only been a few years, but it felt like a lifetime!) Welcome back, Blake!