This long-standing band returns with their seventh studio album, Believe (first since 2014’s A Song In My Head), produced by the legendary Jerry Harrison and features nine new original tracks, which is never an easy feat to accomplish, especially when you’ve been together since 1993; 24 years is a long time and the natural flow of these songs make the band sound refreshed and ready to get back out on the road and do what they do best. This new album of SCI originals was recorded and produced in the recently-founded “Sound Lab”, a hybrid recording studio and band hangout in Colorado.
In a change from their usual M.O., the band worked up, rehearsed and recorded these new songs before making them part of their live set, which I’ve found to be the only way to pull off a good, tight show (let’s face it; many bands go out with their new album tracks unprepared properly and subsequently fall flat when playing them). Considering the band is known for having a very broad, somewhat eclectic mixed bag of styles, this new album showcases a very focused expansion of their range. Case and point, the mixture of wah-wah guitar and “tribal” percussion on the title track, “Believe”, which opens the album. A very heavy, soulful, ’70’s-styled groove that’s infectious and catchy, especially on the chorus; again, the groove remains along with a melody that’s slightly reminiscent of “Mr. Big Stuff”, which isn’t a bad thing by any means – this song does sound like it could have come out of Memphis during that golden period of Stax’s ruling the funk wave. “Down A River” has a wonderfully warm country feel, emotionally-driven acoustic guitars that shine and silky soft harmonies; “Get Tight” has that get-down, swamp boogie vibe and “So Much Fun” charges along in a very pop manner (which sounds like the band moving into new-ish territory).
A delicious mix of Americana, pop, groove and soul makes this album a lot of fun to listen to and embrace. Like I said, it’s never easy when you’re a “veteran” band, but The String Cheese Incident have managed to glide easily into new territory and do it a natural, organic manner. Believe? Why not?
Believe is currently available