by Michael Gasser
No, the name has nothing to do with Norman Rockwell. The name is taken from the two members, Joti Rockwell and Nathan Church Hubbard. Both are in their mid-20s, and the amazing thing is that they started writing and performing together at the tender age of 6. Almost two decades -- I'm tempted to call them dinosaurs despite their young age, as partnerships with such a longevity are a rarity.
I have no idea what they sounded like when they started out all those years ago, but what you get today is a refreshing acoustic pop/folk mix. Hubbard, who penned all the songs, also does all the lead vocals; Rockwell is the man who keeps the instruments and the harmonies going, playing most of the guitars as well as the mandolin, banjo, the Wurlitzer, the Hammond organ, the fiddle and several other stringed instruments.
The album is produced by John Algaia and Doug Derryberry (whose production credits include the Dave Matthews Band), and this is already their second collaboration with the duo. Rockwell Church's musical vision is one of lightness, always avoiding possibly lurking shallow elements. The true center of this CD are the terrific melodies, you just can't avoide humming along. Every aspect of the sound is well refined, this not only proves that they know each other very well, but also that they are on top of their art. They always seem to know what they are doing and why they are doing it, thus realizing an above-average album. Listen to the energetic, jazz-inspired guitar on "Better Days" and you will hear that Rockwell is a very accomplished player. In general, it can be said that this is a very (acoustic) guitar-oriented album, and the licks are of a clear and chiming quality.
Hubbard's lyrics show some promising maturity, he actually has stories to tell and is not just babbling away. In "Back In Line" he imagines himself and his friends "considering to fall back in line" and lead a picture book, average life with all its responsibilities, but all still hanging on the a more reckless, carefree lifestyle, claiming that there is enough time to change later. "Click Your Heels," set in the land of Oz, is the Scarecrow's humorous, but ultimately hopeless, search for love. The travels around the world are a good excuse why love doesn't work out, but "Geneva" makes it clear that there are always other reasons, too.
If your taste didn't get stuck in the '70s, but you still somehow miss the great harmonies of that time, then you should go to the nearest record dealer and ask for Rockwell Church. You'll find impeccable singing and a modern approach to pop and folk.
will you let me be myself
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