A Picture Made is one example of a Kansas and Missouri regional band that catapulted its live show success into road support for such bands as The Replacements (Minneapolis’ punk-alt rock pioneers) , The Call (Santa Cruz, Calif., rockers) and The Connells (Raleigh, N.C. ‘jangle pop’ rockers). Througout the 1980s, A Picture Made created a somewhat of a cult following, and after 35 years , their album Heal (Gooodspeeed Records) is ready for the masses. The 13-track album is well worth the wait and its superior songwriting breathes much energy into a crowded world of alternative pop rock indie music.
What a shame it’s taken this long, but like a good scotch, the aged songwriting flavors the band’s songs with tales of life, love and the road. A Picture Made has thrilling chords, well-placed riffs and of course strong percussion, but it’s the storytelling and songwriting that stands out.
One fine example of the band’s wordsmith prowess is “A Signal Hovering Over America.” At first glance, one might get an impression of the current state of affairs coming out of Washington, D.C. When the song starts, it feels like something out of a Van Morrison, Bob Dylan arsenal. Any Midwesterner will tell you that the winters are long and therein lies the strong stories. This song doesn’t feel or sound like it as written in a winter month, per se, but the grayness and the beautiful melodies seems to lift the song into a cool, reflective state-of-being. In the same avenue as a Jon Dee Graham tune, A Picture Made paints a strong case for two songs in one in the triumphant “A Signal Hovering Over America” with compelling lyrics and twists: his thin and lonesome grin / go now…now go/ go now…now go/….the country made for roads can never hold her…/ pick up. Pick up. / I know you’re home / wake up. Wake up. / The baby’s alone.
In its softness also lies the band’s brutal command of its path and direction. A Picture Made is so confident in its sound – songs like “Heal Me” and “Behind Your Eyes” never waver in direction. “Quitting Now Would Be Treason” has a hum-a-long melody with stirring piano keys. The other standouts include “Music Is Love” and “When You Get Down.”
As a listener, it’s endearing and invigorating to listen to a band that has years under its belt, and decades of emotions in its soul. They capture the sadness and they capture the light. That’s the beauty of this band. While the tendency might be to create something that erases all the years gone by, A Picture Made sculpts a thread that is still being sewn into the fabric of now. With nicked vocals and seasoned melodic guitar riffs, this band is not out to prove anything. They have an innate ability to instantly connect with their listener. A Picture Made has already proved it – it’s time to enjoy what the fruits of their labor – Heal is an excellent, cohesive album.