Review: A Change In Plans Reunites The Original Members Of Reigning Sound on The Band’s First Release In Seven Years 

Reigning Sound
A Little More Time with Reigning Sound
(Merge)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The pandemic has changed many lives and plans over the course of its grip on the world. Reigning Sound frontman Greg Cartwright is an example.

He was planning to record the follow up to the 2014 Daptone label release with the NYC musicians who contributed to that album and its subsequent tour. But since New York was a hot spot for infection early on, procedures changed. Although he never expected to reconvene with the Memphis guys that comprised the original Reigning Sound on its 2001 debut, that was a logical judgment in light of the circumstances.

So off to Memphis he went, hiring that city’s veteran producer Scott Bomar and using his studio to complete the outfit’s seventh album on an old-school eight track, 1” tape machine (most use 24 tracks). The result is a slightly retro, soulful, garage rocking set with country influences that brings the band’s approach back to what it was in its initial configuration some 20 years ago.

Cartwright penned eleven of the dozen tunes, sang and played guitar, so little changes in the overall Reigning Sound style. Still, Bomar infuses more R&B into these pop rockers, even providing a bit of Brit Invasion polish on tunes like “You Don’t Know What You’re Missing.” Cartwright’s sharp, often humorous lyrics remain as he sings You keep me in stitches/But you don’t heat the needle/Before you sew on the pumping pop rocking “A Little More Time.”

The addition of pedal steel on “Moving & Shaking” and the bittersweet “A Good Life,” brings a taste of Flying Burrito Brothers and Nashville to Reigning Sound’s table. Strings add drama to the ballad “I’ll Be Your Man,” infusing a pensive vibe to the already atmospheric music with the lyrics Trapped in a dream/We travel between/Two points in space and time. The guys rock out like Dylan on Highway 61 for the twangy “You Ain’t Me” and go full on ‘60s thumping garage for the opening “Let’s Do It Again” and the sinewy soul of “Make It Up.” The latter features a terse guitar solo and a titular chorus primed for shouting out by an audience in a small club… whenever touring starts again.

Those familiar with Reigning Sound from their previous six releases will welcome “a little more time” with this impressive if occasionally reserved comeback. Anyone new to the group’s established groove should also enjoy this thoroughly entertaining traipse through the soul, pop, garage and country that has always intertwined in Reigning Sound’s music.       

Photo by Alex Cartwright

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