Perpetual Groove - Heal CD

It’s been three years since Perpetual Groove’s last release and “Heal” could be just what the doctor ordered.

"It's an effort to heal ya." These are the words many have been waiting for. "Heal" is not your typical Perpetual Groove album.  Unlike their earlier releases filled with synthesizers, loops and long instrumentals, "Heal" is an effort to strip down and focuses more on the songwriting and the creation of music that can stand the test of time. 

This album is the first to feature new keyboardist, John Hruby. Formerly of the band Guest, Hruby's presence is felt immediately in "40 Roses" as his lead vocals are the first other than lead guitarist Brock Butler's, to grace a Perpetual Groove album.  This album is the first studio piece produced and engineered with David Barbe (Drive By Truckers, Cracker) at Chase Park Transduction Studio in Athens.  The level of production on "Heal" is leaps and bounds better than any Perpetual Groove album.  Barbe captures the band with a crisp, clean sound that truly puts the band's talent at a higher level than ever before.

This compilation of song show the maturity of the band and the growth of their songwriting abilities. "Too Close To The Sun" and  "Up Again" are prime examples of how the band's growth has improved their use of dynamics and contrast in the songwriting process.  "Up Again" begins with a heavy instrumental section and switches into a bright and melodic chord progression as Butler sings his tale.  The album's saga "Too Close To The Sun" follows suit with gorgeous vocals and soothing sounds from the band as a whole.  From the gentle guitar intro and precise key work to the steady rhythmic breakdown by bassist Adam Perry and drummer Albert Suttle, this song showcases the band's great ability to build emotion in their work.      "Honey Cut", the album's only instrumental, showcases the intricate and melodic writing that Perpetual Groove can achieve.  Butler shows his versatility by recording acoustic, banjo, and slide tracks in this gem.  Coming in as the shortest cut on the album, "Honey Cut" is a crisp taste of the instrumental power that this band can harness.

"Heal" is rounded out by a handful of tunes that really capture the bands renewed focus on songwriting and theme.  "No Decorations", "Under Lock And Key", "Downside", and "A Day The Way" all showcase the musical perfection that this album contains.  Butler's ability to spin powerful emotion into his lyrics has always amazed me, but his effort on this album is beyond sensational. Perry's musical writing has matured throughout the years and is evident in these tracks.  The power, the emotion, and the design of the chordal structures, grow with every track and culminate with the album's final cut, "Lost Connection".  The album ends with a dramatic, thought-provoking song, that amplifies the emotion and passion that drives this band.

"The volume of the storm left my ears ringing,

Great tear across the sky,

Even through the noise I still hear singing,

Leaves me to be without dry eyes"

The band's interplay, powerful lyrics, use of space, and top-notch production, clearly show a new direction for a band that has thrived off of jammy instrumentals and swelling synth sounds. With the lyrical explosion that is contained on "Heal", the possibilities are endless.

 - by Chris Cloonan