John Bobo’s and John Newsome’s group The Slang just released their sophomore album, titled Night and Day. Recorded at Nashville’s Ocean Way Studios and produced by Russ Long, the EP is smooth like forgoing air travel to take the train. I listened to it on a rainy afternoon. I also had a chance to talk with John and John for an interview.
“Ballad of Everything” begins the album with a beat as steady as baseball cards in bicycle spokes. The track bristles with vocals that would pair nicely with teenage angst, or perhaps, morose adulthood. Bobo’s vocals are smooth and intelligible everywhere, as he sings of finding clarity in the jambalaya of his experiences, acquaintances, motivations, and desires. I read somewhere that the average reading level of the lyrics of music released in 2015 was ridiculously low, around a fourth grade reading level. The Slang is certainly bumping it up with this album. They even use the word pretense! And, an orchestral outro will always win my heart.
As the next song is opened by piano, “Breakthrough” slingshots into steady momentum with guitar and percussion. Unlike “Ballad of Everything,” you catch a little bit of Nashville, even if it’s just a whiff, like the smell of barbecue in the Kroger parking lot. One thing I find endearing about the South is that it is not uncommon to find chicken bones in parking lots. The sense of comfortable newness in this song is like that sight of a chicken bone in the parking lot. You don’t look twice, but you notice it’s there. John sings of his desire to “get back to where we’re from” with the earnestness of a child selling lemonade. “If all we have is time / I give you mine…” continues the album in “Miracle Sound,” an electric ride in a red Radio Flyer. The track, like a parade of performers costumed in diaphanous material, soaring above on stilts, approaches and passes in a graceful lope. Drums and bass weave a warm afghan that wraps around the background vocals better than any As Seen on TV product made from recycled plastic ever could.
I love a good play on words. I also love how “Remember To Forget” begins with a note about the potential disappearance of the written – that’s handwritten – word. The song acknowledges the present while lamenting the lost opportunities of the past. The opening lines, layered over piano like cashmere and rasped out of Bobo’s vocal tract with the bodacious ballad-like sound as sentimental as that of anyone with waist-length hair from the eighties. The music swells like floodwaters as the percussive alarm clock reminds the listener of the current year and the current mission. “Remember To Forget” is a song that any human being with a past can relate to. It is a reminder to stay on your path and no matter how interesting the scene behind you may be, to keep moving forward.
The Slang “Day and Night” on YouTube
The group made a video for the title track, a rollicking trip to an amusement park, punctuated by visuals of the group performing onstage. Bobo’s voice has a cool guy timbre reminiscent of turtlenecks in the nineties, and the slickly produced music keeps things moving along like the spinning carnival rides.
I look forward to hearing more from The Slang as they evolve and hone their sound. Night and Day is a strong album with excellent production, and it’s the perfect album to add to your music library.