New Release: Back to the Hive by Jay Gonzalez (Middlebrow Records)
As hot bands go, Drive-By Truckers are riding high. So, how does Trucker guitarist/keyboardist Jay Gonzalez have time to record a solo project? As creative types usually do, Gonzalez found the time. After living through the Covid-soaked, politically insane year of 2020 which found DBT releasing two commanding studio albums, The Unraveling in January and The New OK in October, Gonzalez discovered a way to muster the energy to write, record, and release his second full-length solo effort, Back to the Hive, there exists a clear tip-of-the-hat to The Beatles and other 60s influences. “Sunspot” kicks it all off with a beauty of an instrumental. Hearing this tune may throw you into a Twin Peaks state of mind.
“(I Wanna) Hold You” is two minutes of wonderfulness wrapped up with a video of hummingbirds. What’s not to love? Gonzalez sings, “I wanna fold you up like origami and hold you in my palm,” compelling the listener to wonder if he’s singing about his true love or a hummingbird. Either way, it’s a true love song. The wonderful “Deep Sea Diver” resonates with a buttery slide guitar and warm fuzzies all around. A most Beatles-ish song is “You Make it Hard (To Be Unhappy) – so much so you may think your listening to an extra track from a Fab Four album. The poppiness of “Need You Round” provides beautiful organ flourishes and hand claps aplenty. Squeeze fans may find something to love in this one.
Those familiar with the raw excellence of Drive-By Truckers will be struck by the alter ego sound Gonzalez has created here. His range is expansive as he has mastered several musical genres. His vocals and layers of harmony add an additional punch in the heart (in a good way). “Loons on the Lake” reveals a sort of heartbreaking Western saga instrumental, while the closer, “Rosa,” shows off another impeccable track, sans vocals.
The bottom line reveals Gonzalez to be a multi-instrumentalist, multi-talented artist. Look for him performing solo or on tour with the Truckers beginning this summer. To buy Back to the Hive on digital or vinyl, visit Gonzalez’s Bandcamp page.
Categories: New Music