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Album review: John Velghe & the Prodigal Sons - Organ Donor Blues





Album review: John Velghe & the Prodigal Sons - Organ Donor Blues

(Photos by J. Winn and Todd Zimmer)
 
The beautiful thing about art is that each person’s perception is valid. The artist certainly had a message he or she was trying to convey to us. We might even get that message, but it is colored, tarnished, and brightened by our own experiences. The relationship between musician and listener is the exchange of these experiences and perceptions and, boy, do John Velghe and the Prodigal Sons have some experiences to offer to us with Organ Donor Blues.
 
The first single, “Beaten By Pretenders,” has received heavy play on 90.9 The Bridge and features Alejandro Escovedo. Mike Alexander’s vaulting guitar weaves through Velghe and Escovedo’s vocals. There is a pleading in Escovedo’s voice that belies the “Oh, oh, oh,” of the chorus. “They can bring the wolf, but we don’t have to let them in”; a sad song in a happy key.
 
“You made some mistakes in your own hometown,” Velghe peels out the opening lines of “Don’t Understand Your Hometown” following insistent horns played by Hermon Mehari, Mike Walker, and Sam Hughes. Listeners, at least the fallible among us, are immediately connected.
 
The hits keep coming. Each song on this record reaches right into you and delicately and incessantly demands your attention. And you happily give it. Matt Anderson’s resolute beat and Chris Wagner’s bass line welcome you to “Gold Guitar.” Growling guitars press right into your sternum as Velghe laments the position of the modern musician: “It’s like the songs, never made a sound.” After I shared this song with Jon Dee Graham, whom Velghe mentions by name in it, Graham commented, “Can I get these lyrics engraved on my headstone?”
 
“Set It Fire” sounds like what I imagine the Beach Boys would have put out if they were an Americana band. Tight harmonies and a melody that will have you bobbing along without intending to, Kirsten Paludan and Velghe’s voices twist around each other and join together to make this a track you return to over and over.
 
There are records we meet and immediately become part of our lives. We listen to them through our forever. This is one of those records.
 
--Angela Lupton
 
 
 

Organ Donor Blues will be officially released on Tuesday, June 24, but is now available at Bandcamp on pre-order and for digital download. Stay tuned for info on the band’s upcoming shows.   

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