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
The purpose is to be just what it is
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
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.
2. Empty Vessel
4. Roses And Clover
7. Plastic Bubble
8. All Alone
9. Lady Loop
10. Water Song
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