I found Evening Optimist in the progressive section of the CDBaby.com website, but their bio likens them to The Black Crowes so I had to hear what that would sound like. Well, the sound of the Crowes is present on a few songs and they do have some progressive influences, however this quartet from Austin, Texas is just downright great!
Volume One is a 5-track EP, starting with a traditional rocker in Spotlight, led by a cool guitar riff until Robert Becker begins to sing and you hear the similarities between his voice and The Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson. Robert is smoother and younger than Robinson, but at times just as soulful. The backing guitars soften the sound and take away the harder edge, but the rocking solos take me right back to some of the tracks on The Crowes’ Warpaint album.
Don’t You Hover opens like it was ripped from Pearl Jam’s Ten album before becoming moodier and Black Crowes-like with deep Black Sabbath bass guitars. The title sounds like something that Chris Robinson would write and it reminds me of Been a Long Time (Waiting on Love), not the same melody but similar rhythms. Echoing vocals see Alarming Tone open like a Fleet Foxes song. Country rock comes in and they subtly switch from moody back to heavy, so subtly, in fact, that I would regard it as progressive. They switch time sequences more quickly than most bands I have heard recently, from slow delivered mood rock, to heavy, then country, then back to straight ahead rock. It is fun to appreciate and very skilful.
A Part of You is another straight-ahead rocker, with Becker sounding so much like Kenny Loggins that you might swear it’s him. They mix acid lead guitar perfectly with Sabbath bass and thumping drums to the point that you will not be able to categorise the sound. Becker again sounds like Loggins on Better Than You Were. The heavy bass and lead guitar sound like Page and Jones are back there lighting fires. A great album closer that grabs your attention and holds it captive, with memorable guitar solos that I’d like to hear live. The acoustic guitar work at the end will make you want more. “Your life will come around again. And you will be better than you were before”. Yes, looking forward to Volume Two.
I miss The Black Crowes and Evening Optimist are never going to replace them, but their music is both inspired and soulful. Not all of it is hard hitting rock, you can hear progressive influences through most of the album although it is not really progressive in the traditional sense, however they are true to their roots and able to keep you interested throughout. This band would be great to see live. Buy this and give the band a chance, you won’t regret it.
01. Spotlight (4:33)
02. Don’t You Hover (4:08)
03. Alarming Tone (4:42)
04. A Part of You (3:41)
05. Better Than You Were (4:29)
Total Time – 21:33
Robert Becker – Vocals
Tate Farrar – Guitar
Brandon Elizondo – Drums
Chris Reyna – Bass
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 1st September 2018