By Brian Tucker
Simplicity, in just about anything, can easily be overlooked. With music, simplicity is often over-thought, leading to albums questioned to the point until they don’t resemble what they probably set out to be. Getting things right is one thing, not plugging in and playing from the gut is another. Bootleg Dynasty’s Moving at Night is as much playing from the gut as it is about playing from the heart.
The self-described Rowdy Americana band moniker is spot on, making for a band whose sound is scrappily earnest and whose music is proudly as much Saturday night as it is a Sunday afternoon in the backyard.
There’s warmth to their sound, a realness that comes through their country-meets-rock sound. The same goes for lead singer Brad lackey’s whiskey soaked, 70s entrenched singing voice.
The band released Moving at Night at the end of 2013, capping off a successful and busy year. And although I’ve heard Moving at Night for nearly a year, the simplicity of the album still rings true song to song. “Fancy Drink” feels natural, pouring out like they played it a thousand times before ever pushing the record button.
It’s a great song, one encapsulating numerous band personalities – traditional country music, ballads, and pre-jam band era music from The Allman Brothers or Marshall Tucker Band. Daniel Nowell’s electric guitar playing is right at home on the tune, nuanced and timeless. Just over a minute into it, Nowell’s loving guitar lead comes in, ghost-like, bittersweet and the scent of whiskey all over it.
The album is filled with accessible song material. From salt of the earth lyrics about working a day job (“Pallet Jack Blues”) or how paying attention to life is important (“Finding the Love”), the album raggedly (and sweetly) moves between gritty rockers and gentle tunes. Lackey charms and resonates with a raw-voiced delivery or smooth country timbre. Throughout he sounds sincere and a little old school, with both personalities on display on “Time Machine (Knobs and Levers”).
In part born out of another band (Cedar Circuit) that played around town in the mid 2000s, Bootleg Dynasty singer Lackey has a natural, rusty persona. He sounds like your neighbor, a friend from the local watering hole. And it works well, especially with the band’s music that’s a mix of road trip energy, Sunday stroll and flash fire boogie that works through “Bunkin’ Creek.”
The band’s country-tinged music, even songs done with a rock and roll personality, is born from real people grounded in real life. On “Pallet Jack Blues” Lackey sings the chorus, “I got three years in, twenty-seven more to go.” Should the band ever lose that integrity, it’ll be another band altogether.