Monte Warden Flirts with Vintage Sound on “Black Widow”

Understanding that all trends in popular culture – from clothing, to books, movies, and of course music – tend to run in cycles, just hearing that a musician has a new song shaped around an older sound or older genre isn’t necessarily cause for explosive celebration. Even for an experienced, multi-decade active musician like Monte Warden, that single attribute of a classic sound doesn’t automatically translate to uncharted musical waters.

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However, Warden isn’t just about tapping into, or trying to re-ignite, a trend for one brief moment in time. A veteran of the music scene in Austin, Warden is inherently known for appreciating approaches to songwriting and performance that don’t just revolve around the aesthetic of an older style but live in it through and through. Just looking back at Warden’s upstart days as a teenager passionately playing honky-tonk music, shows his depth of sincerity and enthusiasm for classic songwriting. Over the years this zeal and Warden’s own natural gift for songwriting worked well in his favor, as he eventually came to earn a BMI Million-Air Award for penning the George Strait hit, “Desperately,” as well as becoming a two-time inductee to the Texas Music Hall of Fame (solo and with The Wagoneers).

Fast forward to the present day and it seems like inspirational lightning struck in just the place Warden never previously had the opportunity to fully flesh out: classic mid-century, traditional pop.

Premiering today on American Songwriter, “Black Widow” is the first single from Monte Warden & The Dangerous Few, which is due for release on June 19, 2020.

It’s apt that this single, as well as the rest of the music on this collaborative album, feature musicians from both Warden’s past and present. Brent Wilson of The Wagoneers – one of Warden’s previous bands – plays bass alongside a slew of other talented musicians that include Mas Palermo on drums, Erik Telford on horns, and T. Jarrod Bonta on piano. The group’s breadth of instrumental talent combines effortlessly with the imagery-laden, mood-fueling songwriting of Warden and co-writer Brandi Warden. Subtle but distinctive decisions that shaped the band’s instrumental tones elevate the fundamentally swinging style of “Black Widow’s” rhythm to give the song a decidedly traditional sound. Telford’s muted trumpet and the condensed but smoothly defined tone of Bonta’s piano – which gives it the character of a classic honky-tonk upright – are standout examples of sonic affectation that greatly enhance this song.

“Black Widow” is edgy but only so far as it would make sense for the song to be, within the frame of mid-century vintage pop and traditional jazz. This results in the music exuding an emotional temperament that feels at most, risqué, but ultimately, is still draped in an air of sophistication that lets the song land just under seductive, as opposed to being straightforwardly salacious.

“This was the first song written for this project that fully encapsulated everything I envisioned: slinky, sexy, sophisticated and urbane.  I feel it also achieved the broad lyrical and chordal vocabulary present in so many of the songs in the trad-pop era of the 40’s-60’s. Brandi and I wrote this in our living room with Bruce Brody (Patti Smith Group, Lone Justice) finding all those chords on our b.s. D battery-powered Casio keyboard, along with a brilliant young writer, Savvy Giersch, and Kevin Ahart,” says Warden

While waiting for Monte Warden & The Dangerous Few to arrive, fans can tune into the “Monte Warden Feel Good Hour” every Friday at 9PM EDT / 7PM CDT / 6PM PDT via Monte Warden’s Facebook page.

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