Now Playing: Dime Box Band’s ‘Happy’

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Image courtesy of Dime Box Band



The Dime Box Band is prepping for the release of their second full-length studio album. It’s called Happy and it drops on October 1. But first, for those not yet familiar with the act in question, a bit o’ background.

Kristi Callan and the Dime Box Band

Image courtesy of It’s Alive! Media and Management

Los Angeles, California based singer-songwriter and guitarist and former Wednesday Week leader Kristi Callan formed the original Dime Box Band in 1992. The band went on hiatus in 1994. She reformed the band in 2005.
Their Five and Dime Waltz released in 2008 met with critical acclaim and airplay on Americana radio stations across the US.

Over the following decade, the once all-gal group evolved into more of a family affair. The current band roster includes Callan (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Lyn Bertles (violin, mandolin, and harmony vocals), Bertles’ husband Nick Vincent (drums and vocals), son Alex Vincent (bass), and Callan’s son James Nolte (lead guitar and vocals). While as a group they may be unfamiliar to some, as individuals their resumes are noteworthy.

Callan’s credentials beyond Wednesday Week, include playing with Dave Davies, David Gray, and the Cruzados. Bertles worked with Rob Laufer, Holly Vincent, and the Continental Drifters. Nick Vincent has performed with Art Garfunkel, John Fogerty, and Frank Black. Nolte has worked with Dave Davies and The Last.

Signature sound

Dime Box Band’s current signature sound is a mix of multiple music genres including Americana, country, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Happy

Happy is an album with a running time of just under 39 minutes. Callan co-wrote almost every song here.

Track by track

The 12-track disc opens on the guitar-fueled rocker “All of Nothing.” It’s an energetic album opener and an apt intro to the band to boot. Doug Freeman plays lead guitar.

The second selection is “As the Crow Flies.” It’s the first single off the album and comes complete with nice harmonies.

The next number is “What Went Wrong?” Here the band’s signature sound is solidified. Matthew Downs is featured on pedal steel.

“Going My Way” is somehow reminiscent of something by Buddy Holly. Whether it’s something solely in the musical composition or something else is not clear. Something about that vibe just won’t fade away.  Still, it works so who cares? Judy Cocuzza appears on drums, Nancy Luca plays lead guitar and North Vincent on trumpet.

“Close Your Eyes” follows. It has a friendly, familiar flow to it and was arranged by Earle Mankey. David Nolte appears on piano.

“Happy” earns its position as titular track. It’s both positive and fun. Probyn Gregory is intro’d on six-string banjo.

While the theme of “Spilt Milk” is not exactly new, it is written and recorded in such a way that it not only fits well on the album but also has its own little identity.

“Butterflies” follows here. The group’s signature sound remains consistent and everyone’s performance remains not only solid but comfortable and natural as well.

The songwriting on “Detour” may be new but it works just fine here. In fact, the band owns it. It features vocals by Ana Callan and Danny McGough on accordion.

“Keystone” is yet another guitar-fueled rocker. The lyrics are clever in that while filled with clichés, it serves the intentional purpose of making the musical message undeniably clear. It also makes the song fun and more easily open to audience participation.

“Felix Felicis” contains trace elements of Dolly Parton and maybe even lesser-known Linda Ronstadt. Ana Callan returns to add her vocal talents and Probyn Gregory encored on six-string banjo.

The closing cut, titled “Everybody Lies,” makes one wonder if Callan is a fan of  the TV show “House.” More importantly, it is one final example of what Dime Box Band can do. Lisa Jenio adds vocals. Finally, David Nolte appears here (and elsewhere) on bass and electric guitar.

Overall, the album is a musical balance between guitar-driven rockers and midtempo, mandolin and fiddle-filled pieces. It’s generally fun and refreshing and the material here no doubt goes over even better with a live audience. So check out Dime Box Band’s new album because it’s sure to make you “Happy.”