GETTING A GOOD VIEW The Mallett Brothers Band know how to do family, and community. If you're hurting for either just now, give them a listen.
Anybody who took a swing at European history in high school knows the dangers of patriotism — or, as the Continentals like to refer to it, nationalism. By identifying and rallying an "us," you're implicitly identifying and alienating a "them" (okay, maybe that's collegiate post-structuralism talking).
Us vs. Them can be a bad thing.
When shit goes down like last week, though, you can hardly blame people for focusing on "us." In times of chaos, we seek stability and comfort. Some of us are lucky enough to find that in our families and community.
Should you be among those relatively adrift, I suggest the Mallett Brothers Band as a surrogate. These guys know how to do family and community.
On their new and third full-length release, Land, they alternate between boozy and anthemic ballads and boozy and anthemic sing-along stomps, always providing plenty of opportunity for just about anybody to find a personal touchpoint.
Maybe you need "Somethin' to Lean On," fronted by Will Mallett and full of nostalgic mandolin, where he comes home to his best gal "cooking macaroni and cheese by the fireplace light" after there's been "a cold breeze going through my Chevrolet" (wait — I thought they were Ford men?). If you're even a touch sentimental, the chorus is irresistible, and drummer Brian Higgins brings in a tambourine late for a pick-me-up.
Nate Soule, who turns in excellent guitar work all over this album, trades fireplace light for the "dashboard light" in his "Goodnight" (and who doesn't like a Meatloaf reference?). It's like the country track that would have fit perfectly on the Singles soundtrack, with a hook that's catchy as hell and proof that Soule has upped his vocal game: "Get out of the Chevy and let's talk about why you gotta frown every time I come around."
But we were talking family. It ripples right through "In the Fold," where Luke Mallett takes lead vocals and is bolstered by sister Molly when it counts. Soule's slide guitar goes head to head with Wally Wentzel's dobro, one in each channel, and Luke implores, "please leave the heat on when you go, cuz it gets cold."
Family is hard to miss in the album-opening "Blue Ridge Parkway," too, with pops David Mallett backing Will in a surprisingly intimate, mostly acoustic number that features arresting harmonies in the chorus and a ripping Soule solo that follows the second go-round. Dang if it isn't a crisp two minutes and 23 seconds. Full-family performances are starting to become more commonplace locally — if you've missed them, hit up YouTube and find the performance they just posted from the Strand, in Rockland, last Saturday.
It's not all sunsets and longing look-backs, though. Luke, in particular, likes to have a good time. His "Farmer's Tan" opens with gritty, crunchy guitars and a driving backbeat. He's "been down in the dirt," he can "paint your home," and he's not afraid to go huge in the chorus and inspire you to raise your drink. It's not all the way Band Perry, but if you squint you can see the stage-side fireworks and strobes.