OLD SOUL SOCIETY – Old Soul Society

CD Reviews 15 Oct 2023


Old Soul Society

(Self-Release  2023)

Old Soul Society is scheduled for a November 22, 2023 release.

You can preorder the album and help fund its release here.

The album’s first single, “Someday,” just released on all streaming platforms including Bandcamp and SoundCloud 

The band will appear on Triple M’s Live from Studio M on November 28th

The Madison release show is November 29th at the Bur Oak

The rest of the release tour is as follows:

Fri Nov 24 – Appleton Beer Factory

Sat Nov 25 – The La Crosse Center

Thurs Nov 30 – Ope Brewing Company, West Allis _____________________________________________________________________

Seven years after the debut studio recording The Farmhouse Sessions (you can read our review here), Old Soul Society returns with a new lineup and a new album. Although they have released live recordings during this gap, this one was recorded in Blast House Studios. It was engineered, recorded, mixed and mastered by Landon Arkens and features ten new songs, nine of which are penned by Derek Ramnarace (lead vocals, guitars). The album was co-produced by Leo Albertoni, Kenny Leiser, Ramnarace and Arkens.

Only drummer Ben Rohde (who also plays with High & Rising and Tugg) returns from the first album along with Kenny Leiser (violin, guitar) who was a guest musician and now a full-fledged member. The band now also includes keyboardist/bassist Leo Albertoni (Avey Grouws Band, Ben Majeska’s Wunderfunk), percussionist Pablo Chuliver (Frank Martin Busch & the Names) and bassist Mark Norman (Gin Mill Hollow) a new member who did not appear on the recording.

“This is a new start for Old Soul Society,” says Ramnarace, “but we are operating on a different model now because of everyone’s other obligations. Basically, we won’t be doing a lot of random shows. Our focus is now more towards block tours – like four two-week tours in the year.  While we realize this limits our availability, hopefully our dedicated fan base will be more proactive in getting tickets and prioritizing coming to the band’s shows when they happen because it’s now a more limited opportunity.”

Although Old Soul Society retains a lot of the flavor of The Farmhouse Sessions, it’s Albertoni’s presence that gives the sound an extra element of style and mood. This is noticeable right off on the first track, “Cold Stare.” The song builds from a lone acoustic guitar into a cool and haunting groove. Ramnarace does what he does best vocally: sing of loss, hope and redemption in a confessional voice soaked with the pain and experience of life and love. He’s one of those rare artists who can express himself straight from the heart and doesn’t need complicated story lines or accompaniment to connect with his many fans. Musicians like Albertoni and Leiser know how to create a sound that synthesizes with the mood, texture and intent of a song without getting in the way. “Cold Stare” succeeds on all these fronts from the first note to the very effective coda. Even the timbre of the snare drum sounds right and this no-doubt, a credit to Larkin.

The word “dream” appears in nearly all the songs and in all its iterations, whether as a personal quest, a collection of memories, a lovelorn vision or a longing for some future resolution. The lessons are no easier to process but the band itself is humming like finely-aged wine.

Leiser shines all over “In This Web,” with rich, heartbreaking violin tone and Clapton-esque electric guitar lines. The keys are subtle in many places on the album and this is a great example of how much can be added from humble support. Leiser adds sweet, multi-tracked violin to the exceptional “Peace of Mind,” a ballad which also benefits from backing vocals by Kelly Hepper. This is Ramnarace at his life-lesson best. Like “Hurricane Heart” and “Talking in My Sleep,” from The Farmhouse Sessions, the emotional tug is especially strong. Similarly “Same Old Songs” is another classic Ramnarace track and another strong showing from Leiser on guitar and tasty, melodic keys from Albertoni. Albertoni’s shining moment is on “Laramie,” another fine song (written by Ramnarace’s friend Drew Peterson) with exceptional guitar from Leiser as well.

The album benefits from other guests. Miles Nielsen adds slide guitars to the bluesy “On Down the Road,” his smoky soloing bringing gravity. Craig Baumann also played rhythm guitar parts. Cassidy Lund adds gutsy backup vocals to “On Down the Road” and “Larry the Drunk,” which also brings Albertoni’s honky-tonk piano to the fore. The People Brothers Band’s Teresa Marie Hardy adds layered backups to “Fleeting Thought” with Alberoni’s organ and Leiser’s guitar providing soulfulness, the song sounding like a lost track from the Band. Hardy also duets with Ramnarace on the stomp/vocal “Further” as well as providing backups to the aforementioned “Larry the Drunk.” Kevin Rowe contributed upright bass on “Larry the Drunk” and “Peace of Mind.”

All in all, Old Soul Society is a fine showing demonstrating growth and experience in a configuration that already has miles of growth and experience amongst its individual members, many of whom are highly-respected musicians from the area, not to mention the guest artists. The sound quality is impressive, rich in tone and cohesive. Ramnarace’s lyrical directness is able to reach the hearts and minds of his numerous fans who will be thrilled with the results of the efforts put into this recording. As long as he has life to live, it’s safe to say that Ramnarace will be sharing his experiences because that is what music and art is supposed to do. It’s clear that he lives for it.

← WURK - (r)evolution RUTHIE McQUINN – Ruthenium

About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

Leave A Reply

Leave A Reply