I absolutely LOVE that the very first thing you hear when you press play on Jim Bianco’s new album, Loudmouth, is laughter. I have been a fan of Mr. Bianco for a couple years now, seeing him play at The Hotel Cafe, Hotel Carolina, and, most recently, SXSW, and one of the things I love most about his live performance is that it always puts you in a good mood. Not afraid to speak/sing his mind and often delivering the unexpected, this CD succeeds in capturing the essence of a live show and takes the listener on a journey to fun and somewhat unexpected places.
My first thought after l began listening was “I can’t believe these songs haven’t been released already!” Seriously, “Elevator Operator”, an infectious tune about a woman who aspires to be an elevator operator, was the first song I remember hearing Jim Bianco sing a couple of years ago. And the song “Sinners” has long been the anthem I’ve associated with Bianco; that song that calls all the musicians in the room to the stage and gets the crowd on their feet singing along.
I suppose it’s appropriate to open the album with this song that goes, “Heave ho to hell we go. Look out here we come!” Bianco’s voice lends itself well to the more debacherous tune and I’m fairly sure he could make a children’s nursery rhyme into a song that would turn your cheeks pink. But don’t let the theme of the first tune deceive you into thinking the entire album follows this lead.
The rest of the album goes back and forth between upbeat tunes with a devil may care attitude like “Take You Home” and “Shut Up and Kiss Me” and songs showing more emotional vulnerability such as “Talented” and “Ok, I Suppose”. The gruff in Bianco’s unique voice pulls off both ends of the spectrum equally well and with the aid of the musical arrangements (horns versus strings, the piano versus keyboard, acoustic versus electric guitar, an array of percussion), this CD has the ability to take you from headboppin’ smiles to heartbreaking sighs in the matter of minutes.
Let Loudmouth grab your attention with catchier ditties like “Sinners” and “Elevator Operator”, but stick around to see this loudmouth’s softer side. After several listens, the tune that really stays with me is the album ender, “Home”. I’ve always enjoyed this song, but there is something about how it’s arranged on the album that seems to elevate its emotional intensity.
“Home” also brings the album great closure. It’s like that “Sinner” from track one, who has been through all these emotional ups and downs has come to some sort of conclusion about life.
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound. A sinner’s prayer is heard while falling to the ground. I once was lost but now I’ve found. Home.
“There is only one voice whispering in our ear. There is only one place, we’re already here. There is only one word. It’s the word you’re thinking.”
Loudmouth is a seamless transition from Bianco’s 2008 release, Sing. If you are a fan of that album, or enjoy any of Bianco’s brethren on the Hotel Cafe circuit (Cary Brothers, Laura Jansen, Jay Nash, Meiko, Brian Wright, etc.), this album will fit quite nicely in your collection.
And if you’re in Los Angeles TONIGHT (Monday April 4th), Come to Bardot to celebrate the release of Loudmouth. Jim Bianco plays at 10pm!