Opener “Southern Night” kicks off with a Beach Boys-like chorale, but evolves into a Hammond-tinged anthem perfect for rolling down the windows and singing along. Dare I say it even recalls the best of easy ’70s rock, especially with its call-and-response chorus and short fade-out (a commonplace of yesterday and a rarity of today)? From there, the record flows into “Understood,” an easy ballad with a backbeat and a catchy melody with lyrics that describe betrayal, murder, and eventual comeuppance. The Bruce Springsteen-ish “Perfectly” and the jaunty “Fooled By the Bottle” follow, and each subsequent track contains its own personality while still creating an overall package that’s cohesive and sonically impeccable. The album takes a huge left turn at “Full Disclosure,” the ska-influenced ode to adult love (meaning age, you pervs), but it’s a nice middle-album refresh. Other standouts include “Summer Rain” with its “Be My Baby” backbeat (castanets and all), the ooey-gooey title track, and “Want Me Too,” which sounds like it might go well in a Sister Hazel mashup.
If you’re looking for a record that nods to Wilco, Springsteen, and Graceland-era Paul Simon, My Love is Strong will keep you rocking all summer long. Seriously, it’s rare to hear a complete disc so jam-packed with authentically great songs, structure, and sensibilities. But I guess when you’re talking about a lyricist who prides himself on peppering his music with a bit of fun, too, the spoils of greatness are inevitable.