It was a sad occasion when cellist and Getaway Driver member Steve Pingry succumbed to cancer earlier this year. His loss was evidenced by the outpouring of condolences at his memorial services but perhaps also by this latest six-song release by the Getaway Drivers. Every song is imbued with some kind of loss; some kind of sorrow.
Black Dog Days was recorded by Bob Manor, Dan Kennedy and Aubrey Obka and produced by the band. The sound is lush and stately, the feel is more subdued. It seems that life plays out in the music of the Getaway Drivers. Each release feels a little more mature, a bit wiser.
The band downplays things for the most part, invoking a more rootsy vibe. Things even veer toward country music, especially on “A Slow Win.” Here, like most of the album, it’s the sum total of the proceedings that affect the listener. These are some of Bob Manor’s best lyrics, leaving space for interpretation and effect. The band doesn’t seek to reinvent itself or invent new chord progressions either. The lyric and the mood of these songs are closely intertwined and that’s what makes them so engaging and thought-provoking; like a well-written book.
Guitarist Dan Kennedy continues to impress with everything he touches. He’s added his compositional skills, co-composing “Gold Like Cherries,” a life-affirming song set to a poignant blues/folk accompaniment and featuring a gorgeous acoustic guitar solo. Sheila Shigley is just as tasteful in supporting these songs with mandolin, fiddle and her crystalline vocals.
Pingry’s presence is felt throughout, especially on the last two songs. “Free Ain’t Enough,” one of Manor’s four compositions on Black Dog Days, has Pingry dueting with himself on a beautiful middle section, perfectly echoing the song’s unsettling regret and the inescapability of all our past times. The album’s closer, “Candy Car,” was written by Shigley and is simply one of the most beautiful songs you’ll ever hear.
Maybe it’s because I knew Steve Pingry but both of these songs brought me to tears. Listen for yourself, and let me know if those emotions seem misplaced. I’m guessing that they will strike you in the same way and that your appreciation for this superior collection of artists will manifest, as it has for me. – Rick Tvedt