Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Gina Furtado Project: “I Hope You Have A Good Life” (2019) CD Review

The Gina Furtado Project is a bluegrass band led by vocalist and banjo player Gina Furtado, known for her work in Chris Jones & The Night Drivers. Musicians joining her in this band are Max Johnson on bass and vocals, Drew Matulich on guitar and vocals, and Malia Furtado on fiddle and vocals. Their new album, I Hope You Have A Good Life, features mostly original material, along with a couple of interesting choices of covers. On this album, Gina Furtado has some other musicians joining her, including Chris Luquette on guitar, Mark Fain on bass, Nathan Leath on fiddle, and Danny Knicely on mandolin.

The disc opens with a strong, lively track titled “The First Pebble,” written by Gina Furtado. This track has a bright, positive sound. “There was nothing but the open road and me.” Ah yes, now there is a line that holds a tremendous amount of appeal for me. And, as you’d expect, this song features plenty of good banjo playing. A good track to get things started. That’s followed by “Airplane Ride,” which has a groovier sound and rhythm. It’s a song about the dubious joys of air travel. I recall a time when it actually was a pleasure to travel by plane, but those days are long gone. “I settle down in my window seat/I let my time in the sky be a time to retreat/I turn my thoughts loose into the night,” Gina sings. Oh, I try that, but it’s nearly impossible on a full flight, when I spend most of the time in battle for a portion of the arm rest. This track features some really good playing, particularly on guitar, and it provides the album with its title in the line “I turn to my neighbor and say I hope you have a good life.”

I love the energy of “Shame.” It is a song that seems capable of just sweeping you up in its momentum, and features some excellent playing, the musicians taking turns at leads, as is the law in bluegrass songs. And check out these lines: “We haven’t slept a wink in days/And can’t fit everyone inside/And from your mansion up above/You brush away a single tear and shift the blame/Saying what a shame.” This song was also written by Gina Furtado, and is one of my personal favorites. Another of my favorites is “Princess And Pea,” an instrumental track with quite a different vibe, transporting us to a different realm, outside of our place and time. I especially I love the opening section, led by the banjo. Then after a minute or so the tune kicks in, and features some wonderful stuff on fiddle. That’s followed by one of the album’s covers, a nice rendition of Daniel Johnston’s “Story Of An Artist.” I was depressed that we lost Daniel Johnston this year. His was truly a unique voice in music. Gina Furtado’s approach has a sweeter aspect, her voice sounding less vulnerable. “You’ve got me wrong, says he/The sun don’t shine in your TV/So listen up, I’ll tell a story/About an artist growing old.”

There is something so delightful and adorable about “I Knew What To Do.” Partly it is Gina’s vocal line, partly it’s the song’s rhythm. “So when your heart stopped yearning for mine/And I knew that we’d run out of time/Believe me, I’ve never felt so blue/But I knew what to do.” I love this song more and more, each time I listen to this disc. That’s followed by “Take Your Time (I’ll Be Fine),” a jazzy bluegrass gem that is driven by the bass and features some good work on guitar. “I know that traffic must be pretty bad this time of day/And that your job has been demanding lately/Baby, it’s okay/’‘Cause you know me, I can always improvise/So don’t worry, take your time/I’ll be fine.” This is another of the disc’s highlights. Then “Dancin’ To Your Tune” is an enjoyable number with a catchy groove. “Nobody’s got it bad as me/Just look at me, I’m grinning like a fool.” Ah, yes. The album concludes with its other cover, “Can You Picture That?” This is a great song written by Paul Williams and Kenneth L. Ascher for The Muppet Movie. The Evangenitals used to do a phenomenal rendition of this one (maybe they still do, I haven’t seen them in a while). The Gina Furtado Project has a lot of fun with it, clearly getting into the spirit of the thing. There is a lot of wonderful playing on this track, and other vocalists join Gina on this one, the way several Muppets perform the song in the movie.

CD Track List
  1. The First Pebble
  2. Airplane Ride
  3. A Man Like That
  4. Shame 
  5. Try
  6. Princess And The Pea
  7. Story Of An Artist
  8. I Knew What To Do
  9. Take Your Time (I’ll Be Fine)
  10. Dancin’ To Your Tune
  11. Can You Picture That?
I Hope You Have A Good Life was released on September 27, 2019.

No comments:

Post a Comment