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Saturday, April 30, 2011

J.D. Eicher & The Goodnights - Shifting

JD Eicher & The Goodnights - Shifting
2011, JD Eicher

J.D. Eicher & The Goodnights return with their second album in two years, Shifting, due out May 3, 2011.  The title is apropos, detailing both the growth process of the band and the changes in sound present on the album.  The collective from Pittsburgh and northeastern Ohio delves deeper into Americana roots rock while maintaining the melodic pop sensibilities that filled their prior album, The Shape Of Things.

Shifting opens with "The Beauty Of It All", a melancholy pop entreaty for a return to romance with a memorable chorus.  "Love Is Gonna Find You" shows off Eicher's talent for subtle singer/songwriter pop songs.  The verses are solid and the chorus reaches for the stars, but gets a bit too caught up in repetition.  Eicher ruminates on getting over a relationship and how it turns out be harder than expected on "Easy".  Everything comes together here, with a great melody and a chorus that gets stuck in your head.  Eicher's vocal makes the song, but the mellow rock style blends with a distinctive pop sensibility to create a memorable musical moment.

"It's A Feeling" plays on much the same dynamic, with heavier involvement from the piano ala Ben Folds.  The pop feel is high here while maintaining the mellow dynamic that is at the core of the album.   "Fine Line" is solid, but doesn't work well as the acoustic version at the end of the disc. "Blue Coat On Carousel" is a solid love song with an impressionist flair, capturing a moment in time as a symbol of love and beauty.  This may be the best overall songwriting on the album, but is more subtle than the rest of the album and might be overlooked on the first listen.  "Mr. Misery is intriguing, playing around the pre-conceptions about standard pop construction.  Eicher sews together multiple musical parts in ways you might not expect.  Shifting closes with an acoustic version of "Fine Line" that is very much an improvement over the standard version offered earlier.

On Shifting, JD Eicher & The Goodnights have moved forward from The Shape Of Things; this is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse.  As with many sophomore albums, there is something of a drop-off here.  Solo albums tend to be built from songs written over a longer window with much more development in live shows.  Sophomore albums are often the first time a band is writing in a more compressed time frame with the express purpose of making an album.  Add in the continued growth of a band that knows its craft but is still learning how to execute it in time frames, and Shifting offers up both expected transitions and a few pleasant surprises.  The album is a solid effort showing a band that's made something good and is now trying to decide where to take it.  If JD Eicher & The Goodnights haven't quite figured out their destination yet, Shifting indicates that the journey there should be interesting and worth following.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about J.D. Eicher & The Goodnights at  Shifting drops May 3, 2011.  You can pre-order a digital copy from  Expect wider availability after release.

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