Sunday, July 02, 2006

Bonepony "Feeling It" CD Review

Feeling It
(Super Duper Recordings)
It should come as no surprise that Feeling It , Bonepony’s fourth studio album, should open with a song like “Home.” Although the band’s roster has shuffled a bit through the years, revolving around frontman Scott Johnson, the current line-up of Johnson, Nicolas Nguyen and Kenny Wright represents decades of experience and tens of thousands of miles on the road. Grizzled veterans of countless local and regional bands, the trio has earned every right to be tired, fed up with the music business and worn down by the rigors of the road. Yet “Home,” at once both spry and weary, is a celebration of both those left behind and the brotherhood of the road, “singing in a traveling band.” The song offers the usual mixed genres of Bonepony’s sound, an overall bluesy feel complimented by a bluegrassy stomp and strum.

Concerned with relationships – with family, with friends, with fans – Feeling It is an affirmation of the band’s faith in the power of music. Relationships are hard to manage when you spend 100+ nights a year on the road, and the value of a family waiting for you increases with every mile traveled. Several songs here touch upon the subject, dissecting it from different perspectives. The guys are clearly reconciling the wanderlust of their chosen profession with the need for roots and romance. Whether directly addressing the issue, as with the Southern-fried funk of “She’s My Religion” or the mournful, high lonesome sound of “Colour Blue,” or indirectly, as with “Good News,” the question rises to the forefront of the album. The wonderful “Something Good” is classic Bonepony, sparse acoustic instrumentation matched with infectious vocal harmonies in the creation of a complex love letter that would translate well to both rock and country radio (if the medium wasn’t run by idiots).

The high point, in my mind, of Feeling It is the defiant “Farewell,” a recommitment to the muse that calls all three bandmembers, a casting off of the ghosts of the past and the negative energy that would drag them down. Sung by Johnson with a deliberate hesitancy, the song brings the album full circle, where all roads lead back home. It jumps directly into the triumphant title song, the band finally succumbing to the siren of the stage, balancing family and fans with the magic of the music. It’s only appropriate that the album closes with “Park City Jam,” a brief yet energetic reprise of “Home” with whoops and hollers and handclaps that punctuate the joy and jubilation that is the root of Feeling It .

Bonepony’s music, for those unfamiliar with the band, is an eclectic mix of rock, country, folk, blues and bluegrass. It’s a sound as old as the Appalachian Mountains and as alien to today’s trend-driven, focus-group-created-frankenrock as you could possibly be. This is music for the heart and soul, not for corporate marketing. Bonepony’s sound translates well to the stage, where the acoustic instrumentation and the band’s dynamic performances can spark a fire hotter than a Delta roadhouse on a Saturday night. With no disrespect to former fiddle player Tramp, the addition of multi-instrumentalist Kenny Wright to the trio was a smart move, widening the band’s capabilities even as they strip these songs down to the basics. Feeling It will both satisfy longtime fans and earn the band new fans, the album’s honesty and energy an antidote to the restless dissatisfaction felt by many music lovers. If you’re looking for something new and exciting, look no further than Bonepony. (Copyright Rev. Keith A. Gordon, reprinted courtesy of Alt.Culture.Guide™ webzine)


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