Album Review: Dustbowl Revival, “Is It You, Is It Me”

Written by Album Reviews, Music

Of all the young Americana bands offering big choruses and group harmonies, Dustbowl Revival has them beat by a mile.

Of all the young Americana bands offering big choruses and group harmonies, Dustbowl Revival has them beat by a mile.

It helps that unlike the “Hey ho” shouters out there who think that you just need some pawn-shop banjos to be deemed authentic, group leader Z. Lupetin sounds more interested in finding a place where several strains of American music meet rather than coming up with the perfect hook for placement in a commercial or movie trailer. His vision sees violin and ukulele mixing seamlessly with New Orleans horns and close harmonies (the latter provided by Lupetin and powerhouse co-lead singer Liz Beebe). 

While mixing folk and soul idioms will always draw comparisons to Gram Parsons’ brand of cosmic American music, the approach is similar, albeit scaled-back, to that taken by Bruce Springsteen (who gets referenced on “Just One Song”) on We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, and it’s all over their new album Is It You, Is It Me?, which came out in January.

As with 2017’s self-titled release, it’s filled with percolating love songs (“Penelope”) and soulful breakups (“Ghost”). But they also go into political territory on “Enemy,” where Beebe sings how feuding over Trump has caused a split in a family, and “Get Rid of You,” which deals with the need to vote out those who refuse to act on gun control laws in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

On Wednesday, March 11, Dustbowl Revival continue promoting Is It You, Is It Me, with dates across the U.S., with dates through Sept. 25. Their show is quite a blast — I’ve seen them cover both Smokey Johnson’s “It Ain’t My Fault” and Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America” over the years. Check out their full calendar here.