The Outcrops – Peace Of Mind
8 tracks/37 minutes
Hailing from Northwestern New Jersey, the Outcrops debut album is a fun album with a bit of a retro sound yet it’s also very updated and fresh. Their Facebook page says they play blues and soul inspired rock and roll. I’d say that’s a correct way to describe their music. Blues, soul, funk, rock and an overall cool vibe permeate their music. They list influences such as Tedeschi Trucks, The Allman Brothers, The Band, Derek & the Dominos, Buddy Guy and Bonnie Raitt. The late 1960’s and early 1970’s stand out to me in their music, but they are also quite original in their approach. All the songs are new and penned by the band.
The band is comprised of Cassidy Rain Dube on vocals and guitar, Bryan Schroeder on lead guitar, Samuel Jazz Goldstein on drums and Jason Casanovas on bass. They add a horn section for the CD, arranged by alto sax player Nathan Peoples. Trumpeter Mathew Bricker and baritone sax player Austin Zaletel join Peoples in the effort. There is also an excellent keyboardist included on the album, Joe Biglin from the northwest Jersey band Doubleday. The album is produced by Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth.
The album opens with bright, fresh sounding opening riffs and vocals by Cassidy on “Your Girl.” The piano, horns and lead guitar quickly join in on this bouncy and fun cut. She sings with good presence and emotion, Biglin excels on the keys and Schroeder does a fine job on guitar. Overall, it’s a great hook to get the album kicked off with. Following that is “Death at my Door” which opens with a darker and dissonant feel. Desperation and the blues of the minor key are felt strongly as Dube sings about escaping death’s grasp. Next up is “Lost Days,” which is a funky and laid back cut with a cool vibe. The guitar riffs lay out the funk, Cassidy sings with passion and the bongos come in for effect. The keyboards are sublime and the later guitar solo is solid; soulful and funky stuff here. The title cut “Peace Of Mind” is a mid-tempo cut with poignant guitar and vocals. Dube again sings with feeling and sells the song effectively.
“Miss Melinda” has a sweet vibe with a restrained beat. Lots of good guitar work here to savor in this well-done blues rock song. With “Cryptic Blues” we get a somber mood set by the vocals and guitar. Piano and organ fill in nicely and we get some ethereal, semi-psychedelic stuff back and forth stuff between guitars and keys. Very 1960’s and very cool. Following that is “Skelton Key,” another number with some of that nice funk that The Outcrops seem quite comfy exuding. Piano, guitar and vocals share the spotlight and trade off the leads well. The album concludes with the peppy and upbeat “Wishing Well.” It’s got a Tedeschi Trucks/Allman Brothers feel to it with great guitar work and piano supporting Cassidy.
I liked the album a lot. It’s a fine debut album of original tunes with a talented young band. They show that they cut their teeth on the music that influenced them, but they bring a fresh and cool new feeling to their music that I think will serve them well. I’d love to hear them live in concert. It is always heartening to hear new, young talent taking the blues and making them their own! I recommend giving this one a spin!