Album Review – I’ll Be Yours – The Americans

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I’ll Be There The Americans

There’s something so familiar about the songs that The Americans play on their debut record I’ll Be Yours. It sounds like I pulled it straight from my parents’ record collection, having the “back to basics” feeling of the classic roots rock and Americana. It’s not that I feel like I’ve heard these songs before, but these elements of the record that transport you back 50 years perfectly embody the nostalgia that consumed American society then and today. In so many ways, the conflicts and protests of the era are being mirrored today. It makes now the perfect time for a band like The Americans.

The Americans are a Los Angeles area band whose debut has been long awaited in folk and Americana circles. They have toured extensively, playing small venues across the United States and Europe, but they first received widespread recognition when they were recorded on a reconstruction of the first electrical recording system for the PBS series American Epic, alongside artists including Nas, Alabama Shakes, Beck, Willie Nelson, and Elton John.

Prior to this release, The Americans had released an EP titled First Recordings, which had a similar tone, but I’ll Be There feels much more deliberate. “Nevada” starts the album off with an upbeat song, and what first captures you is the bluesy and powerful voice of lead singer Patrick Ferris and the picking of their very talented guitarist Zac Sokolow. The album takes a slight turn with “Stowaway.” It provides a slightly more alternative contemporary sound, while incorporating some of the key elements of blues and early rock n roll, especially when it slows down for the instrumental.

The title track slows the tempo, and the instrumentals are more minimalistic. It starts with a single guitar, adds in the vocals, and the song gets more complex as they continue to add layers of sound. With this progression, the lyrics also become deeper and more complex, as the singer seems to come to the realization of how important this person is to them. “Hooky” starts off with a classic early rock n roll chord progression, whereas the next track “Gone at Last” starts with a Woodie Guthrie-style guitar picking. The lyrics of both have a more contemporary sound, but are certainly timeless. “Hooky” is about a wandering man, who can’t seem to leave the clutches of his hometown, and “Gone at Last” seems to be the antithesis, a man who longs for a home and all that comes with it.

“Harbor Lane” was a highlight of the album for me. To me, it rings of a more hopeful Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones, whether it’s the chorus’s staccato drum beat and picking of the melody or the melancholy lyrics. “Long Way from Home” picks up the pace with a classic Chuck Berry-style progression. And “Daphne” closes the album with a 3/4 meter song about someone watching their relationship end, but remembering the good times.

I’ll Be Yours is a dynamic album, encompassing many classic genres in 20th century American music. The lyrics are timeless, as are many of the lyrics in those early 20th century standards. The Americans could not have put out a debut that better achieves their goal of summoning the spirit of old blues and country through what we’d learned firsthand, and creating something brand new.

Review – Rhodes Ford

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