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ALO
Roses And Clover
Brushfire Records/Universal Music Group
www.alomusic.com


ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) is the Bruce Hornsby of today's generation with the soft soul-funk familiar to Ben Harper's music and the jazz-folk styling of James Taylor. The band's fifth studio album Roses And Clover is co-produced by the band, Robert Carranza, and Dave Simon-Baker. Recorded at The Barn, which was an actual red wood barn turned recording studio located in the foothills of Santa Barbara, California, the songs have a nostalgic 70's soft rock aura with parcels of 60's So-Cal pop and modern folk. The songs are irresistibly catchy and phrased with soothing esthetics that feel like a tropical drink quenching your palate.

All four musicians in ALO sing; keyboardist Zach Gill covers lead vocals, and guitarist Dan Lebowitz, bassist Steve Adams, and drummer Dave Brogan handle backing vocals. Additional vocals are provided by Jenna Lebowitz on "Try" and "Lady Loop" with alto saxophonist Evan Francis and trombone player Adam Theis on "Try." Though the variables for each song change, there is an upbeat vibe pulsating through the rhythm sections and a jazzy tingling in the piano coasts that's indelibly enticing.

It's hard to determine which song feels better than another because each one has something to like. "Maria" is loaded with elated rhythmic beats and bopping piano notes. "Empty Vessel" has a bluesy piano stroll with emotive vocal shifts and "Try" is a citrus mix of reggae and folk. The title track has pop-funk gears reminiscent of The Band. "Monday" is reefed by soft soul and folk milieus and "Shine" integrates balladry accordion textures in the cubes of smooth So-Cal pop. ALO effuses inlays of jangle-pop organs and beach-pop keys and tambourines which enhance the jazz-folk tones.

"Plastic Bubble" has alluring modern soul-funk rhythms familiar in Len's and Smash Mouth's music while the light funk grooves of "All Alone" have a nostalgic feel with the gyrating motions of the 60's frug dance. "Lady Loop" has contemporary soul-funk trimmings while the final track "Water Song" is a soft jazz-folk ballad coated by harp-toned synth cascades trickling with the ease of a Bruce Hornsby melody. The lyrics ruminate about life like Hornsby, drawing metaphors in the track as Gill muses, "Canyons carved out by oceans…The purpose is to be just what it is…Staring 20 years into the future/ Wondering if that's me that I see/ Wrinkles carved out by oceans/ Standing in water up to my knees."

Roses And Clover follows ALO's disc credits including 1998's ALO vs. LAG, 1999's One Size Fits All, 2002's Time Expander, and 2006's Fly Between Falls. ALO attributes their creativity and longevity to being open to each other's music tastes and ideas as David Brogan tells in a press release, "Even though we all have our own music tastes, we are truly in sync with each other and support each other's creative ideas."

Dan adds, "We care about each other as much as about what we are creating."

They transfer that energy into their live shows as Zach relates, "At an ALO show, we want to create a happy uplifting environment - a safe place for the audience to feel free to be themselves."

That is exactly what their album sounds like.

-Susan Frances

Track listing:
1. Maria
2. Empty Vessel
3. Try
4. Roses And Clover
5. Monday
6. Shine
7. Plastic Bubble
8. All Alone
9. Lady Loop
10. Water Song


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