Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Gretchen And The Pickpockets: “Falling Rising” (2018) CD Review

Gretchen And The Pickpockets, from New Hampshire, mix elements of rock, soul and jazz in their original material on the new release, Falling Rising. The band is made up of Gretchen Klempa on vocals, Mike Klempa on bass, Ryan O’Connell on trumpet and guitar, Tom O’Connell on drums, Richie Smith on guitar and Diego Tunjano (the band’s newest member) on saxophone. Joining them on this release are Mark Taddonio on trombone, Conor Powers on trombone and Billy Jewell on trumpet. This full-length album follows 2015’s EP, Anachronic.

They open the album with “Keep Talking,” which begins with a good, kind of mellow groove before Gretchen’s vocals come in. “I should have told you a long time ago/That I love the way you talk/And I want more/Keep talking, baby, keep talking to me.” The song has a friendly, kind of sweet vibe, and I love the horns. It builds to an energetic finish. That’s followed by “Love You Forever.” My mom once sent to me a children’s book titled Love You Forever. It is far and away the creepiest thing I’ve ever read, and includes a mother sneaking into her adult son’s window late at night (there is even a ladder at the window in the illustration). And, yeah, I was in my late twenties when my mom sent it to me. I still have the book, because people don’t believe me when I tell them about it. Anyway, this song has absolutely nothing to do with that book, apart from having the same title, which caused this little trip down Creepy Memory Lane. There is nothing creepy whatsoever about this song. This song has soul and passion. And again I love the horns. “Oh, baby, baby, baby, if you say that you want me to, I will/Because baby, oh baby, oh baby, believe me, if you want me to, I will/I will love you forever.” I believe her.

I really dig the cool vibe that is established at the beginning of “Easy On My Heart,” one of my personal favorites. “But I’m scared to know if you’ll leave me/Honey, I am scared to know if we will fall apart/But if you stay/You’ll make it easy on my heart.” And when the horns come in, it just gets better. This is a seriously enjoyable song, and it takes some interesting turns. And then it explodes toward the end, becoming louder, more powerful, more vibrant. What a ride! “Fall Into You” is a mellower, pretty love song. “I have been many places/I’ve seen other faces/But nothing compares/To you.” Ah, how wonderful to have someone say something like that to you. This one also builds into something powerful and gorgeous.

Things then get funky with “Let Me Do My Thing.” I like this song, although it opens with that “shelf”/“self” rhyme, which I never care for. How can anyone help but love that bass? “I’m going to get right, and get loose/These things that I need to do/I don’t love you, and that’s true.” Oh, I think she’s going to do her thing, whether you let her or not. “Back And Forth” has a heavy, bluesy vibe to start, a slow, steady rhythm. And Gretchen gives a wonderful and varied vocal performance. “It has been a while/Since you came around, since you came around/And I feel a bit depressed.” The album concludes with “Time And Time Ago,” which has a good groove. Check out these lines: “Time heals everything/Well, I don’t know/I still feel the weight of all this damn sorrow.”  This track gets good and strange toward the end (and is that a slight nod to “Rhapsody In Blue” on horn around the 2:47 mark?).

CD Track List
  1. Keep Talking
  2. Love You Forever
  3. Easy On My Heart
  4. Devil’s Due
  5. Fall Into You
  6. Let Me Do My Thing
  7. Take Flight
  8. Back And Forth
  9. Far, Far We Go
  10. Time And Time Ago
Falling Rising was released on April 25, 2018. By the way, there are two different covers for this album. They have the same artwork, but use different colors. Mine is dominated by pink; some copies are dominated by yellow.

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