Artist: Rob Larkin & The Wayward Ones
Album: Dogwood Roots
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Today I listened to the 10 Track CD by Orange County based Rob Larkin & The Wayward Ones called “Dogwood Roots (Specra Records). Rob Larkin is one artist that cannot and should not be underscored. All music, lyrics, and fretwork invites the listener to sift through a multitude of folk-pop-rock sounds, all of which congeal up a tangible yet gorgeous selection of songs – 10 of them in fact. It’s all kicked off by the tasty “Dogwood” which when you listen to the piece is the perfect intro statement to start a musical journey with. There’s somewhat of an upbeat, hopeful tone and mood here when one is introduced to this amazing band and Larkin’s soulful voice for the first time via this intro track. Larkin’s voice is mostly well suited for pop. I have to admit when I saw the pictures of these guys and after listening to this first song – this band was everything I imagined them to be. On “Dogwood Roots” we hear music reflecting the many tongue and cheek offerings provided by past bands like John Mayer, The Michael Stanley Band, The Wood Brothers, The Script, Mathcbox 20, McFly and The 1975. I see this music as mostly Acoustic Pop. This proves to be a very well grounded environment for this collection of songs. Pieces like ‘Dogwood”, “TLA” and Spills Out”
Despite this Larkin branches off with other tracks like rocking “Tijuana” and my personal favorite “One Rise Up.” Artistic expression should never be held to a strict guideline of musical fundamentalism. I hate to use that word “fundamentalism” here but that’s the way it feels sometime when we try to categorize artists. Performance based bands like Rob Larkin sad to say are a dying breed as most good bands have been replaced by what I would call sonic garbage. I also don’t think “musical fundamentalism” is what traditional Rock n’ Roll is about, and yes this album is fundamentally rock based. Having said this “Dogwood Roots” is in a league of its own combining the best modern acoustic pop has to offer. Though these guys are based in LA they could most certainly pull it off in a place like Austin or Nashville. The musicianship is off the charts, the songs are amazing and the catalogue is fully loaded.
“Dogwood Roots” is a strong and epic album. It also refuses to fall into the trap of becoming fundamentally duress-ridden pop. The musical arrangements really differ from song to song and the vocals and emotional latitude tend to remain compatible with that versatility of the artist. All at a constant level throughout. Its music that you could use to watch the clouds go by – but also make you want to jump up, grab your guitar and write a powerful song that could change peoples lives. To inspire someone in on a very sincere and powerful level – yeah that what music is all about?
by Amanda Pearson edited by Markus Druery
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