Monday, December 5, 2011

Album of the Week: NO BETTER TIME by Michael Donner & the Southern Renaissance

For our first album review after Thanksgiving, we give you the musical feast that is No Better Time by Michael Donner & the Southern Renaissance. Brimming with creative musical ararngements and instrumentations, No Better Time serves up a thinking fan's casserole of tasty alt-country. Like Ryan Adams and The Civil Wars, Michael Donner and band deliver introspective lyrics and melodic arrangements. With lines like, "I go down to the big creek, I get down upon my knees. I pray, Lord, won't you change a man like me." from Tall Trees, it's clear that Michael puts some thought into his lyrics. And his voice delivers those lyrics with a sweetly melodic rasp. Like a pretzel M&M, he finds that perfect mix of salty and sweet. On Arms of California, he yearns for the Golden State like a lost lover, "watching days turn into weeks, I don't think looking back is wasted time." He continues the balladeering on the delightful daydream, Slip Away, and the romantic confessional, Watching You. But for me some of the finest moments on this album are when Michael and company break out the jangling guitars and shift into second gear. Songs like, Living Free, You Really Got Me, and Been a Long Time are all great midtempo numbers. They're joyful without being raucous. They celebrate so much more than the temporary escape of weekend overindulgence, these songs are a tribute to the simple joys of freedom, nature, and solid relationships. In Been a Long Time, Michael reminds us to, "forget about the bad times and think about the good times; Lord you know we'll be all right." With the world's current state of affairs, there may be No Better Time for that message!

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