Kelly’s Lot has just released a new album. It’s titled, Can’t Take My Soul. But first, for those not yet familiar with the band, a bit of background:
Image: Kelly’s Lot
The Los Angeles-based band Kelly’s Lot was formed by singer/songwriter and guitarist Kelly Zirbes in 1994. Today the 25-year-old multi-piece act has a resume that includes 13 previous platters and tons of touring both in the USA and Europe. Their material has been heard on television and in motion pictures. The band’s signature sound is a busy blend of multiple music genres including Americana, blues, folk, roots, southern rock, and west coast soul. On the official Kelly’s Lot website they refer to the new release as “a journey of messages, inspirations, and some toe-tapping rhythms.”
Can’t Take My Soul
Can’t Take My Soul is the band’s 14th album. It includes 12 original songs. Zirbes’ exceptional alto vocals are backed by co-producer and co-writer Perry Robertson (guitars), Matt McFadden (bass), Mike Sauer (drums), Bobby Orgel (keys), and Jeri Goldenhar, Aviva Maloney, and Andrew and Jenna Mushin (background vocals).
Track by track
“All I Ever Want Is The Blues” is an apt opener that works well as a unifying anthem for fans of the genre. The lyrics mention most of her heroes including Muddy, Buddy, Etta, and Koko. It no doubt works well with a live audience.
“All Hope Ain’t Lost” is slightly smoky and a bit emotional. While some may claim there is a more immediate interpretation, we should all remember that in truth, hope always springs eternal no matter what the time or place.
The first single, “Alyssa”, is a gentle, sad yet beautiful song. It’s dedicated to the late daughter of DJ Mark Mushin. Zirbes explained:
“We met on Facebook after he started playing my last release ‘Rescue.’ [Mushin] asked me for a station ID, personalized for his daughter. He told me stories about Alyssa, her spirit and her battle with Canavan Disease.”
She concluded: “A few months later she passed away and the song was inspired by all the stories Mark told me. By writing the song, Perry and I wanted to reach out to everyone who needs to be reminded that we must grab a hold of the joy we have today because we don’t know how long it will last.”
The anthem “Woe Is Me” feels like it has a Cajun or Louisiana influence. It features Eddie Baytos on accordion and washboard and Michael Mason drums.
Zirbes picks up her acoustic guitar on “Safe And Warm.” It’s an acoustically-focused love song that reveals Zirbes’ more softer nigh sultry side.
“Rise Up (Leve-Toi)” is a duet that deals with “forbidden love.” Here in this bilingual song, she is joined by French blues artist Jean-Francois Thomas on vocals. Rob Zucca appears on lead guitar.
“Broke Myself” is a great R&B song about how we can sometimes be our worst enemies and cause our own troubles. It features Frank Hinojosa on harmonica.
One of the best tracks here is “Let It Breathe.” It’s another acoustic-led ballad. Much like Zirbes herself, it is both somehow both pretty and strong.
After a very quiet opening “Dirt” keeps things going. This one is essentially a complicated song with an overly simple title. Mason encores on drums.
“Little Bit Of This” definitely reflects the act’s early folk roots. It amply demonstrates that while Zirbes’ has an effective strong, nigh gritty side that sometimes wants to tell the world what to do she also has a soft, caring side that works at least just as well.
The title track is “Can’t Take My Soul.” It’s a fun surf rock-impacted number that has some power to it The song certainly earns its place as the title track and shows off the entire band to boot.
While the closing cut, “Mon Ami”, isn’t the first song with lyrics in two languages, Zirbes and company make it work by making it a bit personal. It adds an international flavor. Jean Paul Monshe appears on accordion.
Overall, the album is a compilation of life and death, love and other heartfelt moments and personal political perspectives generally expressed. The band’s signature sound remains flexible yet solid and another excellent example of tuneful teamwork. So check out Can’t Take My Soul by Kelly’s Lot because when it comes to good music, you might find that “All Hope Ain’t Lost” here.