Thanks to the guys at Divide and Conquer for an in-depth album review.
By Jay Freeman
As described on his Bandcamp site, “Crubaugh's eponymous indie rock debut borrows from blues, country, mid-tempo calypso, as well as punk, funk, grunk, shlunk, black-and-white film music, 17th-century world beat and a pinch of early-80's Norwegian psuedo-progressive glam retro metal” – did you get all that? Written, performed, recorded and produced by Crubaugh with the exception of additional vocals from Jodi Crubaugh on "Don't Let Me Go,” the album’s songs might evoke a little bit of Elvis – no not THAT Elvis – Costello and Tom Petty. And just for the record, Crubaugh was born in Tupelo, Mississippi where Presley was also born, however, you won’t be hearing any “Viva Las Vegas” covers here.
“Best at Being Me” dives into a happy acoustic rhythm with a little old-time country piano mixed with a contemporary rock style. The additional backing vocals and strings that Crubaugh added rounds out this number quite well. “Hate It When You’re Mad” begins with a slick guitar riff, smooth bass lines and hilarious lyrics, even though overall the message is kind of a downer – “But you better sent that frown out of town / Or I’m gonna leave for Tennessee…I hate it when you’re mad at me.” The next song features Jodi Crubaugh helping Joe on alternating verses and the chorus. This one has a great classic rock sound with the addition of a horn section and guitar solo – reminded me of Petty’s work.
“Dog Sniffin’ Blues” is a short fun ditty, with even funnier lyrics – I mean really, give this one a listen especially if you’re a dog owner. The musical style reminded me of Jim Croce, Stealer’s Wheel or Pure Prairie League. The feeling behind “Wishing My Life Away” is melancholy and lyrically introspective. I can’t help but think the way in which Crubaugh wrote his words hints a little at Lennon’s “Watching the Wheels.” The vocal beginnings to “Gitmo” are fantastic – plucking from Beach Boys styled harmonies – in this, well, oddball of a song. The lyrics are quite funny, albeit very dark subject matter, and if this one can be labeled a protest song, it’s truly an original indeed. Not only that, it comes complete with kettledrum sounds!
“Too Late” features a good share of piano work inside this song about trying your best to get a girl’s attention, but as the song’s title suggests that chance encounter didn’t pan out. The beginning to “Float Away” sounds remarkably like an Oasis song from the ‘90s and the words touch upon themes of depression and seclusion. The ending composition was beautiful. “Find Another Way” turns up the funk, rock and soul with some great guitar action and organ sounds. Crubaugh’s lyrics are positive, taking matters in his own hands – “What the hell happened to this place? / Everywhere I turn it's Pharisees up in my face / Rich still eat the poor everyday / Gonna find another way” and later, “You can run or you can try to make / The place where you belong / Either get it right or wrong.”
“Peace with the World” starts with a solid pop rock beat and lyrics that rhythm along with catchy timing. This tune’s about meeting up with a former girlfriend whom you’re glad you never got involved with, because well, she was messed up, but now you’re happy for her because she finally got her life straightened out. “Mississippi Moon” is a tender acoustic calling – a song about wanderlust and wandering, from a native that has Delta dirt under his feet, a road calling his name and boxcar wheels rolling his blues away. Next up for Crubaugh – a release rumored to be heavily influenced by a healthy dose of Netflix binge watching.