With its self-titled debut album, Gerardo Meza & The Dead of Night has captured its hard-to-pigeonhole roots music in deftly arranged, performed and produced fashion.
Anchored by Meza’s country singer-songwriter compositions, the Dead of Night adds layers of ‘60s folk-pop and desert-evoking western sounds to come create a mix that’s not far from Bruce Springsteen’s “Western Stars.” But the Dead of Night recording took place before the Springsteen record was released -- so it’s coincidence, not influence.
Assembled by Mezcal Brothers singer Meza, the new band is made up of Lincoln music vets -- lead guitarist Mike Elsener and drummer Ben Armstrong from Head of Femur, bassist Patrick Nichols and Mackenzie Sanford on saw and omnichord from The In Betweens and backing vocalists Kim Moser and Hannah Bendler.
Produced, engineered and sequenced by Charlie Johnson at Fuse Recording, “Gerardo Meza & The Dead of Night” has a rich cohesion as the songs form something of a cycle, detailing the life of a romance.
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That starts with the slippery rhythmic “Fool You Won’t See” and the hooky, bouncy “Take Me Along” through “It Might Be Love,” the feeling-weak-in-love ballad “Feelin’ the Same,” the joyous bounce of “You On My Mind.”
Then things turn darker, with a shimmering saw and Meza’s deep vocals haunting “Can’t Leave Her Alone,” an exploration of self-doubt on the lush, backing vocal drenched “Find Your Way Home,” the straight country swinger “Love Me Too” before ending with the hauntingly bleak “Take My Time (In Dyin’)” and “Goodbye Forever,” a still-on-my-mind song of regret, confusion, deception and farewell.
With Armstrong’s exceptionally versatile drumming providing the array of rhythms, solid bass work by Nichols and some very tasty solos by Elsener, the music is never less than captivating and satisfying.
Meza’s songs have never been more effective and evocative and the overall sound of “Gerardo Meza & The Dead of Night” has never been previously heard -- a unique roots music blend that deserves a wide audience. Grade: A
Gerardo Meza & Dead of Night will hold an album release show at the Zoo Bar Friday. Verse and the Vices and Histrionic will open the 9 p.m. show.
Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @KentWolgamott