Kevin Kinney and the boys are back after about 10 years since their last full length studio album. In between that time, they released a bunch of EP’s, but thankfully finally we get a full set of music. Drivin n Cryin are from Atlanta, GA, my hometown, so they are local boys who done good. They saw success for a brief time from the late 80’s to early 90’s with songs like “Honeysuckle Blue”, “Straight to Hell”, “Fly Me Courageous” and “Build a Fire” and those songs are a part of the fabric of my life.
A new album from them is always a treat and when you hear Kevin Kinney’s unique vocals come in to play, you feel at home, like you are sitting on the front porch in that steaming Georgia heat, with a glass of ice cold sweet tea (the kind so sweet you go in to a diabetic coma), radio blasting and feeling life is pretty damn good. That is exactly how I felt when I played this album.
The band takes their form of southern rock, Americana folk and even psychedelic sounds and blend it all together for an album that is a straight up rock & roll album. The album kicks off with “Free Ain’t Free” which is Drivin N Cryin bringing us their own version of a political song. Kevin paints a vivid picture through his spoken lyrics about hard times and struggles that people face. And when that squeaky, high pitched vocal kicks in on the chorus, Kevin shows his unique sound that only Kevin can bring. It is the voice that IS Drivin N Cryin.
“I Used to Live Around Here” is that classic Drivin N Cryin southern rock sound. New guitarists Laur Joamets captures that familiar style and brings his own flare into the mix and is welcome addition to the fold. “What’s Wrong with Being Happy” asks a great question as today it seems you aren’t allowed to be happy. Just look at Facebook and see how miserable everyone is with the way they treat each other. It is an upbeat, almost happy, simple little song.
Next up we get “Step by Step” which is blend of several types of music. There is a little slide guitar, an organ and has a country and gospel feel to it at different times of the song. It is that blend that makes it a Drivin N Cryin song. It has a retrospective feel to it which a lot of older bands seem to be doing as they get along in years.
Another political song is “Spies” which is one of the heaviest songs on the album. It has a lot of punch and a rawness to it with its gritty guitars and aggressive lyrics. Laur really shines on this track as his guitar playing is exceptional (but he is only getting started) It is one of my favorite tracks on the album.
And then comes the title track, “Live the Love Beautiful” which slows things down a bit. This is so different than anything they have done in awhile. It is truly beautiful with its presentation and vocal delivery. There is a psychedelic element to it, and even an eeriness that is enrapturing.
The best song on the album is hands down, “If I’m Not There I’ll Be Here”. The song is a kick ass, fist in the face rocker. Laur’s guitars are full of distortion, feedback and he is bending notes in every direction they will go and then some. Look for this song in my top songs of the year.
Not every song works for me. “Someday” sounds too ordinary and doesn’t really add anything new to their sound. Next up is “Ian McLagan” which is an ode to the late Small Faces (or Faces) keyboardist. It is a nice tribute with a nice arrangement filled with mandolins, harmonicas and even a little slide guitar. Well-written and well-done.
“Over and Over” is an interesting song and I am not sure if it is true or not because he talks about Song 3 from his album in 1985. Now, the first album I know about is Scarred But Smarter from 1986 so it must be one I don’t have…now I want it. It is a great little retrospective story that if true is wonderful and sad at the same time.
The final song on the album is “Sometimes I Wish I Didn’t Care” is more of country song than a Drivin N Cryin song which is not something I am fan of so it goes out fairly weak for me.
- Free Ain’t Free – Keeper
- I Used to Live Around Here – Keeper
- What Wrong With Being Happy – Keeper
- Step By Step – Keeper
- Spies – Keeper
- Live the Love Beautiful – Keeper
- If I’m Not There I’ll Be Here – Keeper
- Someday – Delete
- Ian McLagan – Keeper
- Over and Over – Keeper
- Sometimes I Wish I Didn’t Care – Delete
The Track Listing score is really great at 9 out of 11 tracks or 82%. Only two that I would skip is pretty good nowadays as most bands have more filler than killer. Now for the overall score it is too different. The album is great and welcome return of an long time favorite band. I love how they have maintained that classic Drivin N Cryin sound while being fresh and modern at the same time. There is nothing sounding dated which is what I have loved about them for all this time. There is a timeless feel to a lot of there songs. I would give ‘Live the Love Beautiful’ a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars. It is great to have Kevin and the band back. We all need a little comfort food and this is that for me!
Go grab yourself a copy or stream it online.