Artist: The Youngers
Album: Picture of You
Label: Let It Roll
Release Date: 09/16/2016
Forgive me if I take a special interest in bands from my home state, Pennsylvania. I was beginning to wonder when we’d hear from The Youngers again as it has been eight years since their release of Heritage, recorded with John Carter Cash at the Cash Cabin Studio in Henderson, Tennessee. This one was produced by Grammy winner Chuck Turner and was done in nearby Nashville. Fortunately, their great, almost throwback Americana sound remains very much intact. The jangling guitars, occasional lap steel or mandolin, and their sense for a melodic Byrds-like approach are often irresistible. There’s an emphasis on layers of sounds and rhythm rather than spotlighting guitar solos. Yes, you’ll find those too but they never overwhelm a tune.
The main driver is lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Todd Notobartolo, whose drawl could easily come from a place much further south than Pennsylvania. He is a convincing storyteller with a knack for putting together reflective and introspective thoughts that are easy to relate to. The themes include working day blues (“Running in the Night” and “No Money”), temptation (“Devil’s Fingers”) inter-connectedness (“Morning Sun” and “Let It Roll”), and reminiscing (“Picture of You” and “Old Times”). Somehow though, I find this to be as good as any Tom Petty album for the car CD player. The highway and road themes appear in several tunes, notably the title track with these lines –“Want to jump in my car and drive/Down Highway 1 by the Oceanside” and also in the anthem – like “Down the Road” with “Down the road to the great unknown/Down the road I go.” While the jangling guitars color most of the sound, listen carefully and you’ll hear some nice sonic touches that include classical guitar, steel guitar and piano. Then there are two surprises at the end of the album: flat out rock and roll guitar riffing in “Get to You” and the stunning closer that finds Notobartolo alone with his acoustic guitar delivering the heart wrenching “Fly Away.”
The Youngers may remind you of bands like The Flying Burrito Brothers, Crazy Horse and several others. However, when you truly stop and think about it, there aren’t really that many bands with this sound today. That’s part of what makes them so appealing.
– Jim Hynes