Prescott in Arizona should be breaking into dance any day now, thanks to the three musicians from Ponderosa Grove.
As far as debut albums, it would be difficult to discover another act that comes to you with the elaborate tapestry of their music as Ponderosa Grove; with the latest addition to their discography — The Debut. Very cleverly named, The Debut consists of eleven lively and beautifully arranged tracks, all to the credit of the alias’ trio — Candace Devine, Drew Hall and Johan Glidden. The album runs for a smooth forty minutes, and chances are that you would be tapping away from your feet by the end of it. Ponderosa Grove is the brainchild of the three aforementioned musicians, who are also individual acts in their own right. The collaborative effort has led to the birth of The Debut and its cross-genre melodica.
The album’s lead-off is begins with Slowing Down In Real Time — accurately named with its isolated acapella vocals that gradually mixes itself with the rising instrumentation. The track is inherently decorative and made for performances. Freedom Ride is a ridiculously cohesive upbeat track that opens up with a handsome guitar solo and quickly gets married to Candace Devine’s vocals, joined with an enthusiastic brass-bass accompaniment. Waterline is a track straight out of the 80s lo-fi discotheque aestheticism. Glidden’s organisation shows itself completely in this track as he plucks away at his instrument, as Devine’s optimistic lyricism promises brighter horizons.
It Never Rains is an emotional break in the album — Glidden’s vocals is an introspective celebration of the loneliness in familiarity. The track is made ambient with its background harmonies, cinematic piano instrumentation with the mid-tempo drums as the backbone. The adhesion of the harmonies of Glidden and Devine is observed best in Til Tomorrow, a track that should give a rush of emotions to people who witness familiar landscapes change in their lifetimes. Save My Soul is sung in an anthemic chorus of a track led with Devine’s sultry vocals — the lyrics and compositional style are oddly reminiscent of a healthy blues-rock melodica; a song made for large crowds. Devine’s passionate vocals are piercing enough to be placed up there with some classic acts of the same genre.
You Got Me is easily the track that people should remember The Debut by — the track is sung with incredibly graceful passion by Candace Devine as if the singer is feeling every word in the track. The ambient soundscape does well to set Devine up. The vocals appear almost messianic and sung with ardent emotional fervour, revealing the power of music to evoke the impassioned frenzy of existence. Glidden begins One Seat as a mellow, emotional track that builds up the ambience to eventually conjoin with his traditional composition, and the song builds up in marvellous ascendance till the end. Love begins with a sweltering swing and quickly marries itself with the attractively sloppy sound of the saxophone that poses as the storyteller between the lines of the lyrics.
The impassioned vocals from You Got Me are brought back again in Holding Me Back — an oddly reminiscent 2000s track. Into The Blue is a fitting end to the album — a track that presents itself in a coordinated musical ensemble consisting of all of the musical ornamentations in the album.