Despite being friends for almost 20 years, it is only recently that Ryan Summers and Nate Cherrier decided to get together to collaborate under the moniker Midwest Soul Xchange. The result is New American Century, an 11-track album due for release on the 24 November.
With Summers based in Wisconsin and Cberrier living in Arizona, the making of the album was very much a virtual affair. It’s quite ironic that such a traditional-sounding album wouldn’t have happened without modern day technologies, but the end result does not feel disjointed at all.
The duo adopted a stripped-down production approach which works extremely well and brings the raw emotional power of the songs to the fore. The instrumentation is well thought out and the dual vocal harmonies are uplifting and teeming with nuance.
The music is infused with a classic old-school vibe reminiscent of bands like The Byrds, The Band and even The Beatles, but it also sounds strangely timeless. Numbers such as opener Set a Course for Common Words, with its use of harmonica and tasteful guitar solo, Sun Dried and Has Anybody Seen Bob would have fit right in had they been released in the 60s. At the same time, unconventional chord progressions and interesting soundscapes elevate songs such as Truth Attention and Occupy the Piper to a whole other level. Four Score and Seven To Go rounds out the album with a lighter-in-the-air moment worthy of Bob Dylan.
New American Century may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a well-crafted album that’s worth checking out. Whilst unashamedly rooted in the 60s American folk-rock tradition, it still sounds fresh and relevant.