MUSIC REVIEW: Blue Dogs – a complete package
July 22, 2004
The Blue Dogs have put it all together. Vocally clean, technically sound and instrumentally original, the four-piece rock band, which opens for Tony Furtado at Copper Mountain on Saturday afternoon, puts forth a captivating sound on it’s recent release, “Halos and Good Buys.”That’s not to say it’s a completely original sound.Funny how newer bands can enter the genre of classic rock through the back door, kind of like the Black Crowes did a decade ago. They arrive on the scene after their type of music has already hit the time capsule, then they proceed to cover it aggressively and even re-invent it.
The Blue Dogs have the name and the sound – they are rock. The album’s opening song is called, “What’s Wrong With Love Songs.” It’s a rhetorical question that the band answers wholeheartedly throughout the recording. Nearly every song is about love: the unrequited kind, the reunited kind, the kind with bad timing, the true kind, the hopeless kind, etc. Elvis would be proud.It’s hard to write intensively about an emotional subject and not sound fake or cheesy, but the Blue Dogs pull it off. Sure, some lines make you cringe, but for the most part, the band speaks from the heart.
Some of the tunes are reminiscent of classic summer driving songs like Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” and John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane” (during his John Cougar days). Others straddle the line between rock and country quite adeptly. But what all the songs have in common are crisp vocals – the lyrics are understandable on first listen – and driving instrumentation.Daren Shumaker sits in on the mandolin on the album, adding just the right hint of bluegrass to several tunes. Guitarist David Stewart shows some
innovation as a soloist, which is no small feat with rock ‘n’ roll tunes as basic as these.Most, but not all of the songs, feature straight-forward rock chord progressions. The most notable exceptions are “Four Winds,” in which the band changes keys and tempo seamlessly, and “My Forever You,” the most heartfelt of the love songs.No review of this album would be complete without a comment on the cover art. The girl on the cover – her stare, the crumpled dollar bill in her hand, her cryptic tank top – she sticks with you. If you like good classic rock, the music will stick with you too.