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Jul 20 , 2017 • The Rabbit Hole
Pricing:$11.19 in advance
As if creeping from the Southern swamps and mist-soaked cotton fields, SIMO’s “Stranger Blues” is the perfect table-setter for the Nashville power trio’s vibrant new LP, Let Love Show the Way. The song is a blueprint for reinvigorating the fusion of jazz improvisation, downhome blues and classic R&B, as well as these genres’ psychedelic Brit Invasion and countrified Southern-rock manifestations. The rest of the record follows suit, a souped-up vehicle transporting the band on a deeply satisfying, off-the-cuff musical journey. Let Love Show the Way finds SIMO not just reveling in the hallowed space’s unique mojo and history, but taking it to a fresh and inspired place. The first album ever recorded at Macon, Ga.’s Big House and was cut entirely live in full, unbroken takes—vocals and solos included—the result is primal, sweltering and immediate. “We live and die by the take,” says singer-guitarist JD Simo. “We don’t edit, and if there are overdubs, they’re minimal. I want it to be unaffected and pure.” As a musical unit, Simo, his longtime drummer Adam Abrashoff and bassist Elad Shapiro have an undeniable chemistry, taken to even greater heights with JD playing Duane Allman’s 1957 gold-top Les Paul for every track on the record. “There’s definitely a magical element to the recording,” Simo says of Let Love Show the Way. “The vibe of the Big House, using Duane’s guitar, plus all the touring we’d done leading up to it…it was a perfect storm.” By the time he was 5 years old, JD was begging his parents for a guitar. They obliged, and by age 10—much like his peers Derek Trucks and Joe Bonamassa—he was regularly playing bars backed by older musicians. By 15, he’d dropped out of school, put his own band together and was touring full time. When he was 21, JD moved to Nashville, where—after making a living as a session guitarist and moonlighting in bar bands for half a decade—he made an important decision. The time had come for him to pursue his own muse. He met likeminded musician Abrashoff and original SIMO bassist Frank Swart, and they set off on a journey together, hitting the road hard and honing their craft. During this time, the group also recorded its self-titled 2012 debut LP, which Rolling Stone later hailed as “soulful psychedelic blues rock with an improvisational bent.” Eventually, Swart left the band, making way for Shapiro to join on bass. “When we played with him it was so immediate,” JD says. “It was like, ‘Where the hell have you been?’" While Simo is comfortable with his role as a bandleader, he’s never wanted to be a solo artist. “A band is something very unique and special,” he says. It’s a sentiment that’s reflected in the band’s egalitarian/improvisational approach to songwriting, even in the way SIMO sets up for shows—in a straight line across the stage, with no member given more weight than any other. “I can’t emphasize enough how much I love these guys and what they bring to our sound,” JD says.” Adam is an absolutely immaculate improviser. He’s completely free and technically the best musician in the band. I’ve done hundreds of shows with him, and I still don’t know what he’s going to do or where he’s going to take things—it’s inspiring. And Elad, he completes my musical thoughts. He is full of passion and enthusiasm and authenticity. He has absolutely no filter, both socially—which is hilarious—and musically, which is always incredible. In many ways, he’s the heart and soul of the band.” Together, they’re an adventurous rock & roll trinity, a thriving creative partnership completed by JD’s combustible guitar playing and soulful vocals, and Let Love Show the Way is a game-changing album from a band in the midst of an evolutionary breakthrough. “I’m a stranger here,” JD belts on the record’s opening salvo, all mysterious swagger and smoky, downhome grit. But for a band with such with such memorable songs, uncommon rapport and awe-inspiring musicality, SIMO can take solace in knowing that line won’t hold true much longer.
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