It’s a sad state of affairs when the fact that a rock & roll album recorded live, with minimal overdubs, is considered worth highlighting, but it’s notable that the new full-length from Thomas Wynn & the Believers was recorded “as live as possible.” Had Wynn reshaped his band – one of the most incandescent beacons of rock & roll classicism in Orlando – into some Pro Tools-contorted beast, the resulting work would’ve been not only a disservice to the transcendent nature of their live performances, it would’ve also been profoundly disappointing and dishonest. Yet, thanks to a simple and straightforward approach to the recording process, Brothers and Sisters is full of buzzing, open-chord goodness, crackling harmonies and visceral energy to spare.
What Wynn and the Believers deliver is a sly bit of surprise. Their workmanlike ethos and general ubiquity – seldom a week goes by without a gig of some sort – has likely lulled local scene-watchers into thinking they know exactly what the deal is here: classic rock delivered with roof-raising spirit and a crowd-friendly smile. But there are also subtle variations on the 40-year-old form, tweaks that are much more recognizable on record than on stage.
For instance, the title track unfolds gradually and gracefully into a CCR-quoting number that seems like an awfully unoriginal way to begin a record. However, “Brothers and Sisters” reveals itself as much more complex, using a Fogerty riff as little more than a launchpad for a soulful, cathartic and completely original rocker.
It’s that soulfulness that continues to set Wynn’s band apart from many road-dogging young classic-rock acts. Live, it’s the grit in Wynn’s voice, the generosity of his spirit and the band’s visible camaraderie that helps to elevate the Believers’ music beyond mundane recitations of worn-out ’60s rock tropes. On the album, thanks to the live-to-tape ethos of the sessions, all of that comes across beautifully.
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