Dustbowl Revival, an Americana roots band bent on sonic exploration and societal liberation, turn introspective on their latest album, “Is It You, Is It Me,” to create an album that’s meant to empower people through hard times.
Having recently lost two band members, the main core of the group, Zac Lupetin (guitar/vocals), Liz Beebe (vocals, ukulele), Connor Vance (fiddle/guitar), Joshlyn Heffernan (Drums), Matt Rubin (trumpet) and Ulf Bjorlin (Trombone) engaged in an open policy, experimental recording session that found the sextet playing different instruments and teaming up with a horn section and a choir of friends, to merge aspects of Soul and Funk to Revival’s now revised and leaner brand of
“Is It You, Is It Me,” are the sounds of a matured band looking for common ground by commenting on their world and the world around them.
Lupetin’s and Beebe’s harmonizing co-lead vocal approach sounds inquisitive and empowering, even when questioning the duality of performance music on album opener, “Dreaming.”
Artists often have to project an ideal version of themselves while bearing their experiences to a demanding audience. Lyrics full of self-doubt aided by catchy horns and an equally catchy chorus makes this track sound like a slice of Alternative Pop.
“Enemy,” a number lead by Beebe features her vocals, dual recorded over funky horns and a jazzy beat that questions the polarization of modern politics.
In the song, a daughter feels a painful generational split between herself and her parents, as she tries to deal with her thoughts that they may have cast their votes for a tyrant in the last election and have become strangers to her. This yearning search for common ground pervades the record, as a whole.
Continuing with the duality theme touched upon at the beginning of the album, “Sonic Boom,” powered by Vance’s fiddle, tackles the topic of love, an emotion Revival ponders in depth, throughout the LP.
Love, as it turns out, can be a messy affair. You can dig a hole for yourself, worrying about feelings given and maybe not reciprocated, but in a romantic sense, when love is real, it’s has the power to break up any stormy clouds hanging over your head.
Dustbowl Revival’s urge to constantly expand their musical palette, while continuously building on their signature sound, makes exploring any of their previous three albums a delight, but the direction of self reflection that “Is It You, Is It Me” takes is an especially potent addition to the Los Angeles-based musicians’ formula.
On a statement released via the band’s web page regarding inspiration for the effort, Lupetin mused, “We don’t know where this journey will take us or how long it will last. That’s my take on the importance of what we try to do. Music elevates us, lifts us up, makes us change our minds, takes us out of our comfort zones. If just one person can be moved by just one song, that’s enough.”
“Is It You, Is It Me,” contains occasional explicit content.
If a high energy set put on by a witty, eclectic Folk sextet seems interesting, be sure to catch Dustbowl Revival when they play an all ages show at 8 p.m., Feb. 29 at the Troubador. Tickets are on sale now at troubador.com