Armed with new drummer, Michael Jerome, and long time bassist, Tom Drummond, lead singer Kevin Griffin is getting set to release Better Than Ezra‘s seventh studio album. The new album, entitled Paper Empire, will be available to the public on May 12th, 2009. Fortunately, I was able to get my hands on it early. I am excited to share with Better Than Ezra and 90’s music fans alike, what is in store this time from the boys from New Orleans.
The album kicks off with a song many of you may be familiar with, “Absolutely Still“. The first single off of Paper Empire, “Absolutely Still”, was released a few weeks ago and according to Kevin, the music video has already been recorded and they even have a few behind the scenes pictures of the shoot on their myspace page. It continues to grow on me every time I listen to it. The second track, “All In”, is definitely a concert song. I can picture Ezralites singing along to this one at the next concert. My favorite line is “The moral to the story / There really isn’t one / The bottom of the line / Is to have a bit of fun.”
“Black Light”, the fourth track, is one of the more up-tempo songs. This song really shows their mastery of the kick it up and the break it down and the transition between the two. Next up is “Fit”, which fell a little flat on my ears. Not bad but not great. Maybe my least favorite on the new album. The fifth track, “Hell No!”, will definitely get your attention. I predict that it will be another concert favorite and while the chorus doesn’t have much substance with lines like, “Hell no y’all! We ain’t gonna sit down / Hell no y’all! Gonna shake this mother to the ground / Hell no y’all! We ain’t gonna back down”, it’s one of my favorites. They slow it down a bit with “Hey Love”, a song that was featured on Kevin’s facebook page for a while. “Hey Love” is my favorite song on the album so far and a great “love” song. “I Just Knew” is easily the slowest song on the album. Perhaps the slowest, most acoustic sounding song ever from Better Than Ezra. Similar to “Fit”, its not bad but its not my favorite either.
“Just One Day” proposes a simple question, “What would you do? / What would you say? / If everyone you loved came back for just one day.” A simple song about healing and moving on. “The Loveless” is a song that was up on Kevin’s myspace page for a while. It’s a mellow song that I could see a TV show picking up for a theme song. Its got that kinda vibe. “Nightclubbing” is a lot like “Juicy” from Before the Robots but in my opinion a lot better. If you liked “Juicy”, you definitely will like this one. Most of Better Than Ezra’s songs would cause a riot of disgruntled partons at a nightclub but this one might actually pass the grade on the dance floor.
“Turn Up The Bright Lights” is the kind of track that sucks you in from the beginning. Easily my favorite from the album. Its a song about enjoying the city and someone special. The last song on the album, “Wounded”, truly encapsulates what this whole album is about. Kevin Griffin was quoted as saying, “There’s a really precarious nature to everything that you hold dear in your life,” when referring to the album title, Paper Empire. He really gets down to the heart of the matter in this song and it’s a good way to end the album.
At a little under 48 minutes long, Paper Empire‘s twelve tracks have a lot to offer. Highlights include: “Hell No!”, “Hey Love”, “Nightclubbing”, and “Turn Up The Bright Lights”. It’s a very strong effort and I have few complaints. It is hard to rank it with their other albums, having only listened to it for a few hours but I can see it falling somewhere in the middle.
Rating: Four out of Five stars; a solid album.
If you are like me and want a cool collectors item, you can head over to BetterThanEzra.com and pre-order the album. They will send you a signed copy of the album.
Better Than Ezra will be on the road all summer promoting the new album so be sure to head over to their myspace page to see if their heading to a city near you.
That’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed the review.