Workingman's Bread by Alamantra blends strong lyrical, often poetic, imagery with melodic well-executed arrangements into a lovingly crafted presentation of nine songs exploring a number of musical influences from classic rock & psychedelia, alternative rock, southern rock and Americana. In spite of their diversity these tunes take on a consistent, recognizable patina that is evocative, engaging and listenable. It is clear that Alamantra is more interested in making art than product and these songs make a number of literary references while also offering tribute to some of Alamantra's rock influences. These musicians have the confidence to cut their own path without feeling the need to be fashionable or trendy. The overall theme is one of eclectic musical syncretism. Even the title, Workingman's Bread, combines the somber images of labor and sustenance with a playful pun on the Grateful Dead's "Workingman's Dead" to provide a sort of clue to the types of musical treasures this collection contains.
The album's opening song, Bread, strikes a mood reminiscent of early Pink Floyd while the lyrics mix the 23rd Psalm and Edgar Allen Poe into a brooding image of stagnation and finality: "You lead me by the poisoned water. Build a house upon the shore, ignore the rapping at the door …Nevermore." "Spaces" is a psychedelic tour-de-force complete with sitars, and shruti box while "Will Hear" mashes the familiar, bombastic rhythms of Iron Butterfly's In A Gadda Da Vida with the cosmic, melodic theme of Jimi Hendrix's Third Stone from the Sun. The effect of doing so it to paint an image of the aspirations of the Aquarian Age. Vase Flowers is cut from the cloth of 80's melodic, alternative music that recalls bands like REM and Modern English, while simultaneously exploring themes of deception, infidelity and reincarnation. Silk Skin grabs onto a line from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: "Pilgrims passing to and fro" and whips from it a blur of images lifted from Rumpelstiltskin & Rip Van Winkle to sketch a jagged, surrealist portrait of capitalism gone awry. All of this is done over a violent, relentless, driving musical maelstrom that suddenly undergoes an alchemical transformation into a silk smooth jazzy blues-rock ending that would be perfect fare for any festival. The closing song on Workingman's Bread, Brian Jones, is an up-tempo rocker that tells the story of Rolling Stones member, Brian Jones, going to Joujouka to record the Master Musicians shortly before his death. The Master Musicians of Joujouka wrote a song and did a piece of art entitled: Brian Jones, Very Stoned, and Workingman's Bread leaves us with a playful sketch of that event. This album represents a musical journey that begins with the "Bread" …a dark, brooding, Joycean image of The Last Supper and finishes with the happy admonition: "Every cloud has got a silver lining and above me, the sun is always shining."
Producer/Engineer Brad Timko brings together Alamantra regulars: Bobby Shiflett (Gtr, Vox, Keyboards), Steve Casteel (Gtr), Brandon Allison (Drums), James Mitchell (Bass), Rick Glaze (Bass and Vox), Ken Shiflett (Percussion). Additionally there are a number of guest appearances by some of the best talent in the Magic City. Tim Boykin (Shame Idols, Barking Tribe, Topper Price ) brings his astounding guitar abilities to Ajarah Jam, which also features rapper/vocalist, Carlito Jones (Jive Mob, The Deep End). Milyn Little (Royal & Toulouse) offers her voice on the Americana flavored country-rocker, Forever Away; which is also graced with the delicate piano work of Genie McElroy and the ethereal pedal steel playing of Pete Nice (In addition to being the youngest nephew of writer, Kurt Vonnegut, Pete appeared on the tribute to Kris Kristofferson: “Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down” with John Doe and Chuck Prophet). Kenneth "K.D." Robinson (George Clinton, Jive Mob, The Deep End) lends his soulful voice to a number of songs: Bread, Ajarah Jam, Spaces and Brian Jones. Keyboard wunderkind, Derek Nolin sits in for Ajarah Jam, Spaces and Silk Skin. Former Alamantra players, Joel Smith (Happy Lemmy) and Mike Hamilton pitch in vocals for Silk Skin and Ajarah Jam. Completely done as a DIY project, Workingman's Bread is a fitting example of the potential to be found in the indie music scene and a testimony to the power of collaboration.
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