The pandemic has put a lot of plans on hold, with concerts and entire tours postponed or canceled. Vocalist and songwriter Nalani Rothrock had started recording what was intended to be a full-length album last March, just before everything went to hell. We are going to have to wait for that album, but Nalani and her musical partner, guitarist Joshua Lamkin, have decided to release the three songs that had been completed before the pandemic halted the recording process. And that is excellent news, for these tracks are pretty damn good. Titled The Rock House Sessions, because the music was recorded at Kevin McKendree’s Rock House studio in Tennessee, this EP contains all original material, written by Nalani Rothrock and Joshua Lamkin. Kevin McEndree, in addition to recording and producing this release, also plays keyboards on these tracks. Also joining Nalani Rothrock and Joshua Lamkin are Steve Mackey on bass, and Kenneth Blevins on drums. Nicole Boggs and Jonell Mosser provide backing vocals.
The first thing that strikes me about the opening track, “How Long,” is Nalani Rothrock’s voice. It is powerful and soulful, with a good amount of country in her delivery. This song also has a good groove, one that gets me smiling. There is something of a timeless vibe, all of the elements working so well together, including some delicious work on keys. But it is her voice that really drives this song into our hearts. “I’m wondering if I still drive you wild,” she sings at one point. Oh, no question about it. “How long, darling/We can’t keep living like this.” That’s followed by “Try.” The guitar work at the very beginning makes me think we’re about to drop into some heavy blues, but as the song kicks in, the drum work has the feel of a march, giving it a sort of New Orleans vibe. And there is a bright energy to this song. “I don’t care if the mountain’s too high/Baby, don’t you want to try.” Hell yes! That is exactly the attitude we all need to have as we get into 2021. While this song may be on a more personal level, about a relationship, it has the power and spirit to work on a larger scale as well. Hers is a voice that should inspire and motivate people to put in their best effort, regardless of what it is they’re working on. The EP concludes with “Every Time I Close My Eyes,” which has a completely delicious groove and a wonderful, soulful vocal performance. “Was there something else that I could have tried/I’m doing the best I can to keep my head up high/I keep searching for the reason why/Every time I close my eyes.” This track also features some cool work on keys, plus some excellent backing vocals.
CD Track List
- How Long
- Every Time I Close My Eyes
The Rock House Sessions is scheduled to be released on February 5, 2021. And a full-length album will follow at some point.