Light Hum Serenade
The members of Big Sky have collectively beaten the odds. Most groups that start as college bands have, by the third album, backed themselves into the proverbial corner, defining and refining their sound until there is nothing left. 10,000 Maniacs and R.E.M. are perfect examples of this phenomenon. Not so with Big Sky. These guys have, from the beginning, stretched their musical legs, avoiding corners like the plague. Light Hum Serenade is a triumph of talent and dedication to the craft.
Recorded at Jim DeVito’s Retrophonics Studio in Saint Augustine, the multi-dimensional sound is crystal clear and vibrant. It’s a truism in the business, however, that for a recording to be excellent, the original material must be excellent as well. No studio could make inferior material sound this good.
The dozen tunes on the disc run the gamut from country-fried rock to funkyfied jazz-blues. There are no pigeon-holes to be found here. The musicianship is exquisite, every instrument taking its turn at the fore. The band weaves guitars, horns, and keyboards into a rich tapestry of sound that can turn the biggest venue into a cozy living room. The drums and bass lay down a perfect blanket of rhythm that commands but does not overwhelm the music. The vocals are right in the pocket, always intelligible, never grating. The combination of these many elements makes for a purely ecstatic listening experience.
The collection includes the jewel “El Niño,” which fans will recognize immediately from recent live shows. This crowd pleaser involves audience participation which must be seen to be appreciated. It is most likely the greatest meteorological song since “Stormy Weather.” The only weak spot on the disk is a hidden track at the end, which starts out like the Mayberry philharmonic tuning up and ends up like Stevie Wonder on acid. But, since it is a hidden track, it’s a matter of no harm, no foul.
Of special note is the song “Back Light,” a special tune with a special meaning for one of the band members. It is about how one person learned to deal with personal loss; it is truly the most inspired song on the disk.
This CD is a must for any serious fan of Florida music. If there is justice in the world, Big Sky will be signed to a major label; then the whole country can discover another bit of Florida magic.
Windsong Entertainment, 238 W University Ave, Suite A1, Gainesville, FL 32601; http://www.bigskyband.com