Los Angeles based Dustbowl Revival have spent a decade pushing the boundaries of American roots music, creating uplifting songs that fuse folk, funk and soul and performing transcendent live shows that have seen the L.A. Weekly newspaper crown them the city’s ‘Best Live Band’.
Produced by Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive, David Ramirez) and engineered by Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Local Natives, Sufjan Stevens), their upcoming new album ‘Is It You, Is It Me’ represents the latest stage in the development of a band that never ceases to evolve.
New single ‘Enemy’ is out now, on Medium Expectations / Thirty Tigers, and comes ahead of their new album, ‘Is It You, Is It Me’, set for release on January 31.
The band are on tour across the UK from tonight. See Dustbowl Revival at following dates:
30 – NOTTINGHAM Metronome
31 – SHEFFIELD Greystones
1 – ABERGAVENNY The Chapel
2 – LONDON Nell’s
3 – BRISTOL The Louisiana
4 – MANCHESTER Night & Day Cafe
6 – SALTAIRE The Live Room
7 – SELBY Town Hall
9 – SETTLE Victoria Hall
Dustbowl Revival comprises Z Lupetin on lead vocals and acoustic guitar; Lize Beebe on lead vocals and ukelele; Connor Vance on fiddle; Josh Heffernan on drums and percussion; Matt Rubin on trumpet; and Ulf Bjorlin on trombone.
Written in a two week flash of intense creativity, the majority of the songs on ‘Is It You, Is It Me’ were layered and composed day by day in the studio. Built like a nimble rock orchestra, each member played multiple instruments, bringing in new musicians on symphonic brass and local friends to create a spur of the moment choir.
“I feel like we grew up for real on this record,” states Lupetin, “both as musicians who have come of age on the road together and as collaborators making music that even we don’t know how to describe or pin down. It’s exciting and a bit terrifying.”
Emotional and self-reflective, ‘Is It You, Is It Me’ tackles uneasy topics, often where the political feels personal such as in the defiant ‘Get Rid of You’, which was inspired by the student activists who emerged from the Parkland High School shooting in Florida. The ominous driving brass groove of first single ‘Enemy’, powerfully sung by Beebe, hones in on a painful generational split between a daughter and her parents, who may have voted in a tyrant and have become strangers to her after struggling to find common ground.
Elsewhere, there is the New Orleans second line feel of ‘Nobody Knows (Is It You)’, about a character who runs for president and accidentally wins, then gives it up on a whim when he discovers a greater good; the catchy pop bounce of ‘Ghost’, about a mysterious lover who disappears without a trace; heart-on-sleeve love songs like ‘I Wake Up’, and the first-kiss electric guitar and percussion nostalgia of ‘Penelope’, which harks back to huge band influences like early Paul Simon and Van Morrison.
The group’s co-lead vocalists star on the album opener ‘Dreaming’, which tackles the deep vulnerability of revealing your soul every night in front of an audience, while the band chart a new course on lushly cinematic, orchestrated set pieces like ‘Mirror’, ‘Runaway’ and most notably current fan favourite and live showstopper ‘Sonic Boom’, which is about the struggle to reveal who you really are in the rose-tinted world of social media. There is a widescreen expansiveness to these songs that would not seem out of place in a packed arena.
“Maybe we don’t know where this journey will take us or how long it will last,” acknowledges Lupetin. “That’s my take on the importance of what we try to do. Music elevates us, lifts us up, makes us change our minds, takes us out of our comfort zones. If just one person can be moved by just one song, that’s enough.”
Find Dustbowl Revival online on their official website.