BLUE SKY RIDERS – Finally Home (2013)
After more than thirty years of being his own boss, Kenny Loggins – who began his career as part of the iconic duo of Loggins & Messina and as solo artist brought us such hits as ‘Celebrate Me Home’, ‘Footloose’ and Top Gun’s ‘Danger Zone’, has formed the band BLUE SKY RIDERS with Nashville singer-songwriters Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman.
Loggins call this new adventure as ‘Chapter 3′ in his musical life, some kind of reinvention for this veteran singer / songwriter, and he can be proud of Blue Sky Riders’ just released debut “Finally Home”, a very good American hand-crafted rock album.
What sets the Blue Sky Riders apart is the unique diversity and songwriting talents of its members. And it’s not just the lyrical content, but also the ability to craft tightly woven songs full of dazzling harmonies.
They do have a very name player in Kenny Loggins, but probably more impressively they have a unheralded in public yet legendary songwriter in Country Music Hall Of Famer Gary Burr, and a tremendous, well heard songwriter who’s written massive hits for other artists in Georgia Middleman gracing this group.
“Finally Home”, which the trio produced with Peter Asher (J.D. Souther, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt), is a 15-song, Americana sounding classic rock with several Adult Contemporary, country and rock&pop elements with a sound fitting somewhere between The Eagles, early Fleetwood Mac, Crosby Stills and Nash and the contemporary dynamics of Venice.
Call this music as you want, but this is American Classic Rock, period.
Songs like “Little Victories” (co-written with Richard Marx) and “As Luck Would Have It” display the record’s optimistic undercurrent while also showcasing compelling three-part harmonies.
In fact, from the opening notes of “I’m A Rider (Finally Home)”, it’s clear that these three vocalists have an exceptional chemistry when it comes to developing melodies and arrangements.
All three vocalists share, almost equally, vocal leads. Not only do they do that, but it’s a very organic way in which they split the vocals. On a project like this, you would envision that they would all be looking for equal time, and yet, that’s just not how it works.
Instead, they find their places well, and simply combine their collective sounds where necessary.
The military inspired “Feelin’ Brave” which hints at The Doobie Brothers with wonderful transitions and instrumental hand-offs, provides possibly the best example of the three singers coming together, while also allowing each to retain their own signature touch.
And on the self-empowered “Dream” and the acoustic/electric “Just Say Yes”, Kenny, Georgia and Gary are allowed room to spread their musical wings before joining back in layered step for a warm chorus.
Their individual timbres fit so nicely together that even when each member takes a turn singing the lead lines, you can’t help but wait to hear how they orchestrate the unique lines and phrasings of each complex new passage.
The bluesy “How’s That Workin’ For Ya” showcases harmonies punching in and out while on “You Took The Words (Right Outta My Mouth)” different combinations of voices move through this song with a strong Fleetwood Mac feel.
“Finally Home” is a wonderful American Rock album.
Don’t be scared by the ‘country’ sticker wrongfully put on this recording, this is plenty of terrific great AC classy rock songs, full of heavenly harmonies, melodies and yes: hooks.
In “Finally Home” the diversity of Kenny, Georgia and Gary comes through in a blend of styles that continually creates fresh new turns.
It’s fun. It’s musically great, vocally immense, and incredibly pristine recorded, produced and mixed.
Strongly recommended by this blog.
01. I’m a Rider (Finally Home)
02. How’s That Workin’ For Ya?
03. Little Victories
04. Just Say Yes
05. Feelin’ Brave
06. You’re Not the Boss of Me
07. Another Spring
09. A Thousand Wild Horses
10. I Get It
11. Say I Like It
12. Windeer Woman
13. As Luck Would Have It
14. You Took the Words (Right Outta My Mouth)
15. How About Now
Kenny Loggins: vocals
Georgia Middleman: vocals
Gary Burr: vocals, guitar
Peter Asher: guitar, production
Tom Ball: guitar, harmonica, backing vocals
Scott Bernard: guitar, percussion
George Hawkins Jr., Michael Rhodes: bass
Shem VonSchroeck: bass, strings
Tommy Brechtlein: drums
John Gardner: drums, percussion
Dan Dugmore: steel guitar
Chad Jeffers, Josh Matheny: dobro, mandolin
BUY IT !