Date Nights by Life In Cold Climates reflects on the many aspects of relationships, over a bedrock of funky beats and jazzy chord progressions, like the infectious offspring of Steely Dan, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding and Michael Jackson.
Things begin with "Let It Out," which features some impressive guitar playing and arrangements and some choice vocals by Eve Goodman. It could be a Motown outtake, except for the way that it's recorded, which sounds a little too brittle and plastic, making it sound more like John Mayer, which sets off some warning bells. The musicianship and ambition is in place (there's a lot of instruments going on) but it just doesn't come together.
The lead single "Date Night" thankfully quenched my fears that I was listening to yet another indie band vying to get on the festival circuit, and becomes more like real jazz/funk/soul than the approximation thereof, with its insanely awesome horn stabs and violins. I even like it when they slip into an upbeat reggae groove and people really have to work to sell me on anything that sounds remotely like ska. In this instance, it is fun, catchy, memorable, and likable.
This sweet, classic soulfulness continues on to "The Letter," which opts for hand percussion instead of a drum kit that gives an exotic feeling and allows more space for Goodman's lovely voice and lets the sparse string parts really shine. "Into You" is the point where I fell in love with Date Nights, erasing any misgivings I had at the onset, bringing to mind the bittersweet twang of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain". The guitars, which start off as a biting acoustic and shift into ringing, crystalline arpeggios would make Lindsey Buckingham proud, and manage to convey both muscle and beating, heartfelt passion, which gives "Into You" an impressive emotional range with orchestral plucking and double-tracked vocals adding even more poignancy and depth.
This is a stone-cold classic, just begging to be on your next seductive mixtape. "The River" rounds thing out; a classic, stripped-down gospel blues, with two spacious acoustic guitars, framing Goodman's baptismal vocals. It reminds me of Allison Krauss and Union Station's "Down To The River" from the “O Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack, before breaking into a subdued country waltz, overlaid with tear-jerking heartstring violins, to make for a truly moving experience.
Date Nights is a lovely listen, for all fans of roots music and Americana, particularly the kind encapsulated on the O Brother soundtrack. I chalk up my earliest misgivings to a misstep in the mix, which is corrected as the album goes on. Just goes to show, never be too hasty and always give someone a chance and hear them out. You never know what you might miss by judging a piece of art right out of the gate. I ended up really enjoying this short and poignant EP. Life In Cold Climates is a group of very talented and heartfelt musicians and that should go far.
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