Thursday, March 26, 2015

The All Togethers - To the Sober Go the Spoils

I have been meaning to get to this, the All Togethers latest CD, for a couple of weeks now, but life and sickness have kept me from getting much of anything done. The previous release from this self-proclaimed "hillbilly jazz" bunch, Ridge Runner, is at least a couple of years old by now and the group has had some personal changes since then. Ken (lead vocals, banjo, mandolin) and Cindy (stand up bass/vocals) remain and are joined by Michael (guitar/vocals) and Brenna (cello/vocals), who have now been playing with them long enough that they have meshed and melded into a strong, cohesive unit.

Most of the songs here will be familiar to those who have been watching this combo grow here in Vegas and the opener, "Self Defense", has a strong, percussive mandolin intro and really nice 4 part harmonies, which are prevalent throughout. "Run Away" highlights Ken's strong song-writing and Brenna's cello, adding a different texture to the mix, and the acoustic rave-up at the end is a nice touch, as well. Bringing the cello to the forefront again is "Shadowboxing" (which also has a hep vocal pause/hook) along with "Get Your Mind Right", before Michael takes the lead for the prohibition-esque ode to the imbiber, "Sonata In Whiskey". Keeping in the theme is "Copper Angel", bringing in the record's title to this romantic paean to Ken's moonshine still - some really creative instrumental interaction here, as well as lyrical cleverness.

From there we get a Roarin' 20's banjo number, "So What?" and then Michael adds a lovely guitar intro (and solo) to the somewhat threatening and frightening (but beautifully melodic) "When the Night Comes". The added percussion towards the end is particularly creepy, as well. More jumpin'n'jivin' in their cover of "Darktown Strutter's Ball" and then the proceedings finish up with a new, upbeat take on "I Heard You Paint Houses" (that also appeared on Ridge Runner).

I'd have to say that this co-ed combo is probably my favorite acoustic combo in town (though they do have some strong competition here) and this recording is a high quality representation of their sound, with terrific tone, superior playing throughout and great songwriting. Hop a freight train, drain a can of Sterno and grab this wherever you can!