Quick potted history: Lee Richards was in Dropbox and Godsmack. Whitfield Crane was in Ugly Kid Joe. Together they were in Another Animal. Now they’re back together and have created a simple, acoustic-led rock album which will make your ears cry with happiness. Stripped back to basics, Richards/Crane has no pretensions, just a ton of great riffs, licks, rhythms and vocals.
A chance at an early sampling passed me (and almost Ross) by when they opened the last Ugly Kid Joe tour due to a very early start time meaning that we missed most/all of the set. I suppose it’s a fair swap that I got a chance to hear the album before release – it’s out on May 20th (though those who pledged to raise funds for it have had it since September!). The track “Black and White” caused a bit of a stir when the video was released (see below) courtesy of guest vocals from Myles Kennedy and it’s definitely a highlight on the album, but by no means are the other tracks left in its shade.
Richards/Crane definitely falls at the “easy listening” end of the rock and roll scale. This is an album to crank up when you’re relaxing, feet up with a beer or other appropriate beverage in your hand. It’s music to snuggle to with your loved ones. These are songs that will make you feel warm and tingly. They’re at once original compositions, but wonderfully familiar.
As mentioned earlier, the tracks are acoustic-led but there are some electric solos in there. These aren’t long, widdly affairs, but instead short, airy and the type of thing that will have you floating along on a cloud. It’s not a fast-tempo album by any stretch, the most upbeat song probably being “Waiting on a Prayer” with its country edge (I think it’s the slide sound to the electric guitar in the background). As with all of the tracks, it has absolutely lovely lyrics which it’s well worth listening to and soaking in.
I’ve not had a chance to listen to the album as many times as I’d like to as we were provided with a streamed version for review so I was limited to where/when I could put it on, but the fact that I want to listen to it more says a lot. I almost miss the thing when I can’t have it on in the car! Every single track is a toe-tapper, beautiful in their simplistic perfection.
Somehow I have to pick a couple of tracks from it and tell you they’re the best – and believe me that’s a hell of a job. “Black and White” is an obvious choice and Kennedy’s vocals definitely add that bit of novelty. “Rainy Day”‘s lyrics about looking for the brightness no matter how bad things may seem send a beautifully subtle message. “Everyone” has a very Beatles-esque sound to the opening minute or so which grabbed me.
I could name another three. Then a couple more. But I’ll leave it there. This is a quality album. Sometimes you just need something to unwind to and this is the best album I’ve heard so far this year which would suit that purpose.
Richards/Crane is out on May 20th.