Thursday, August 6, 2015

Have Gun, Will Travel - Science From An Easy Chair

You can take Science from an Easy Chair from Florida's Have Gun, Will Travel as another excellent addition to the catalog of southern rock typified in the recent decade by Drive-By Truckers.  Or you can take it as one of the few well executed concept albums; one on which the songs stand up artistically by themselves and in service to the overall theme.  But whatever you do, take the album.  It is that good.  It is southern rock, muscular pop, epic folk and Americana/country blended into a fantastic tapestry of music.

But what, you ask, is this business about a "concept"?  The concise answer is that Science from an Easy Chair is based on Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1916 Antarctic Expedition and commemorates its centennial.  The title of the album is taken from a book about popular science that the Shackleton's crew read aloud on the expedition.  When pitched to the label bosses at This Is American Music, one doesn't know whether the response was (1) Right, we've been hoping to release an album about that, (2) Oh shit, but if I say no you'll post the photos of me that you took after the Florida-Auburn game my senior year, (3) OK then, but we're even for the time I dropped your new fishing pole in the lake, or (4) I didn't catch what you said, let's talk later when we're sober.  But it doesn't matter, because in addressing a historic event of incredible hardship, endurance, bravery, teamwork and survival, Science from an Easy Chair embodies the spirit of the event in a highly entertaining and memorable fashion.  It should be noted that Shackleton's expedition is a launching platform, rather than a script, as the album actually appropriates the historical event to also tell a story of a band struggling to succeed in the music business.  Various aspects of these twin expeditions are told with via adept storytelling and inventive instrumentation, and with palpable clear-eyed sincerity.

I only have a few clips for you, so I will urge you to accept that in the case of this record, hearing is believing.  Try the songs below, and if they lead you to think I may be right about this album, stream it at the Bandcamp link.  I think you'll find it worthy of a portion of your music budget.

Have Gun, Will Travel is founder Matt Burke, Scott Anderson, Danny Burke, and Jean-Paul Beaubien.  Various other worthy musicians contributed as well, and are listed in the credits on the Bandcamp page.  Science from an Easy Chair is out now via This Is American Music and is available in vinyl, digital and CD formats.

This Is American Music

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