Artist: State Cows  
   Title: The Second One 
   Label: Avenue Of Allies  
 

Right folks, time to get the top down on the car and get the wind through your hair as you cruise down the famous Route 66, listening to the sounds of......

oh, hang on, we're from the North East of England, aren't we! Erm... righto, get the windows up, heater on and drive carefully down the A1300 to South Shields, listening to the cool sounds of 'The Second One', the new album by State Cows, a band with surely the strangest name you'll come across for a while.

Formed by Daniel Andersson and Stefan Olofesson, the duo have already got a self-titled debut under their belt, released in 2010 to critical acclaim, and as back then, they have again used some of the musicians to help on this project, along with a guest list as long as your arm, Sven Larsson, Bill Champlin, Peter Holmqvist and Michael Landau to name a few.

What you get is simply keyboard-orientated pop/rock of top quality, easy on the ear for those sunny day moments when all you wanna do is chill out, ma-a-an!

Prepare to be transported back to those innocent, hot days of 70's from the off, as 'This Time' is the perfect way to begin the day with, it's skip along beat

uplifting enough to get you in the mood for some laid back air guitaring, courtesy of the cool solos that jump in and around the song, very much in the

Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter mode of Steeley Dan fame. If you're into the American sitcom's of the 80's, then 'In The City' will definitely rock your boat, as it has that kind of 'title tune' feel to it, the dancing keyboards and horn arrangement bringing back memories of "Blanche, Dorothy, Rose and Sophia" (aka The Golden Girls!) sitting round the kitchen table, though listening to the intro to 'I Got Myself Together', you've virtually got the show itself! Luckily the mood drops down a touch, as the "band" would probably end up on a charge of plagiarism!!  Still, you do get a smart solo towards the end as if to point out that ' here's where it's different'.

Slightly more on the relaxed side is 'Hard Goodbye', combining a hypnotic keyboard and vocals to produce a melancholic state of mind, helping us float away on a tranquil cloud of wellbeing for the 4 minute + of the song, 'California Gold' keeping us up there for just that bit longer with it's exquisite, laid back

vibe, the harmonies spine-tingling in their use as you're eyes are closed to take this stylish song in even more. Admittedly, you can hear the influences throughout the album, deliberate or not, but you have to admit that State Cows are doing a grand job here, no more so on the jazzy / prog backdrop on

'Nineteen Eighty-One', all flouncing ivories up against a computerised drumbeat for that era's effect, complemented by a EWI(??) solo by Samuel Muntlin!

Hell's Bollocks! You even get hints of (dare I say) George Benson breaking through the ranks on the little groove-buster 'Scofflaws', where Peter Holmqvist's solo sounds as rich as an Arab in Primark!  It is literally a Benson trademark guitar sound, and there's no shame in that, as it's a sound to behold when it's done as well as this. Really, really lovely. (Sorry fellow rockers!)

From here we get into the funky groove of 'Finally Fair and Balanced', vocals courtesy of Bill Champlin, and what a fine job he does on this catchy little number, and yes, it does get the feet a-tapping amongst other things!! Midway through, it's as if you're being transported to another world altogether when

the heavenly keys break up the song, giving an out of body experience as again you hit that cloud that takes you away for a moment or two. If it wasn't for the six-string solo bursting in, God knows where you'd end up!! And that, dear readers is how 'The Second One' leaves you feeling as it comes to an end.

The album is a journey of calmness, peacefulness and plain old enjoyment, just what the doc ordered in these days of uncertainty.

I guess that the most cynical amongst us would say if you want to know about this album, just listen to anything by Steeley Dan, but that's not true.  State Cows have their own mark to make in the business, which they have with this up-to-date west coast-based sound that should introduce a new breed of fans to what we had all those years ago. SIGH!!!!

Review by: Robb Baldwin 

Tracklisting:

1.  This Time
2. In The City
3. Mister White
4. Hard Goodbye
5. Scofflaws
6. I Got Myself Together
7. Finally Fair And Balanced
8. Canter In The Sun
9. California Gold
10. Nineteen Eighty-One   

                    

 

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