The Contenders’s Laughing With The Reckless

By Brian Rock

Americana duo The Contenders are anything but reckless in their debut album, Laughing with the Reckless. Filled with finely crafted songs of struggle and hope, Guitarist Jay Nash and Drummer Josh Day bring in just enough session musicians to give texture and depth to their work, without losing its essence in overproduction.

Not shying away from controversial social issues, The Contenders come out swinging with “Line Across the Water.” With J.J. Cale and Ray Wylie Hubbard influences, they lay a chunky, laid back, Southern Rock groove as they sing, “Why should we fight for the cause if we might die at the hands of the law?” But rejecting retribution, they offer a more positive approach to fixing the problems that affect our nation, singing, “If we all band together, we can see the light.”

Part Avett Brothers, part BoDeans, the Contenders blend vocal harmonies on each song. Jay’s raspy, rough baritone pairs perfectly with Josh’s clear, bright alto. The two voices meld together to create a musical yin and yang that gives both balance and tension to each song. The effect allows the listener to hear each song on multiple levels; passion is paired with restraint, experience with innocence.

“Call Me the Lucky One’ is a beautiful, harmonica laced ballad that’s part Bob Dylan and part Zac Brown. Singing about fighting long odds to chase your dream, and not always winning; they take solace in that fact that, “you gotta get lost if you’re ever gonna be found.” So even when things don’t work out, they’re lucky enough to have at least taken that first step to finding their way.

“Save a Place at the Table” is another tender folk ballad reminiscent of Arlo Guthrie’s serious side. Confessing that, “My brothers are all God forsaken,” they sing of the loneliness of broken relationships and broken families. Trying to stumble ahead in life with one eye constantly on the past, they hold out hope that, at least metaphorically, there will come a day of reconciliation and a “place at the table for me.”

The Contenders work in elements of Southern Soul in “Finer Weather.” They evoke Gram Parsons-era Byrds on “The Night That Jackson Fell.” And “Something True” is hook-laden, anthemic Folk in the style of Drew Holcomb.

With beautiful vocal harmonies and musical arrangements spanning the full, electric Folk range of Americana, the Contenders deliver a musical knock-out punch on their full-length debut.  |  fb  |  buy

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

Comments are closed.