McNamara & Souls' Calling, Love for All
A brief note to self-aggrandizing musicians: I’m tired of liner notes that thank God, Jesus, Yahweh or some sort of Spinoza-inspired God/Nature. Even if we accept that God exists, can we really believe he/she cares about some band’s new album? If your stuff is good, you deserve the praise; if it isn’t, you deserve criticism. Why does no one blame God when they suck? Also, when these sentiments are captured in your album and song titles and your band’s name, it gives the impression you’re a wannabe new-age folk-rocker — or “focker” for short. And that can be misleading.
When I got my hands on Love For All by local dudes Bryan McNamara and Souls’ Calling, I was all set to tear down what I expected was just another focker’s overly ambitious album. Instead, I got some pretty nifty jazz. I like jazz, though mostly in a pretentious way. That is, I like to sit and listen, tap my foot and think bourgeois thoughts.
Love For All starts with an extended introduction to the band via “Prayer of Thanks.” Gentle bass, layered with light drums and a little sax, gives way to cacophonic sets of keys and sax. The ensuing guitar work seems more suited to a Grateful Dead space jam than the opener of a jazz session, and feels disjointed and dissonant. Sadly, not in a cool way.
The band makes a Rocky-esque comeback with its second song. “Pop-pop” blasts back with great bop-era overtones. McNamara’s sax has a soothing subtleness, backed almost flawlessly by the rhythm section of bassist Robinson Morse and Geza Carr on drums.
On “Sort of Simple,” the group expertly melds the sax and drums with Joseph Davidian’s classic key structures to make some subtly pretty music.
While “Pop-pop” brings the album up, “Queen’s Song (Canção da Rainha)” is its bluesy apex. Picture Chet Baker doing “My Funny Valentine” — with alto sax rather than trumpet. The group demonstrates some great pairings: sax with keys and bass with drums.
Overall, the guitar work is frequently disappointing. But on “What the Fuck,” odd-man-out Nicholas Cassarino is finally used effectively. His guitar glides along and rounds out some nice solo drum work.
Love For All plays like Kerouac’s The Subterraneans. At first it sounds disjointed and frantic. But as the group gets going — and as I clue in to their vibe — the disc picks up and sounds clean and rewarding. Thank God.