The Gena Rowlands Band, Flesh and Spirits

The Gena Rowlands Band, Flesh and Spirits

I have been sitting on this review for many months, really unable to get my head around Flesh and Spirits, the third album from The Gena Rowlands Band, an ever-shifting project centered on singer and main songwriter Bob Massey. Not because there is anything inaccessible, difficult, or indifferent about the band (there isn’t), but really trying to come up with a way to properly describe what is expressed on this album.

I don’t think I have heard an album that sits at the crossroads of stream-of-consciousness and beat poetry quite like this one. The songs are constructed beautifully, with ample space for Massey’s free, loungy singing style. “The joke I played on Washington” is especially strong, with a neat soaring chorus and flexi-verses, and “God And The Way Women Walk” is a wonderful love song, probably the most cohesive on the album. “These Windows on The World” and “Mercy” finish off the journey, “Windows” as a vocoder-based poem barely supported by light strings and pads, and “Mercy” a seeming lament on change and regret with a gospel-tinged refrain.

Every song is good, however, and the musicianship is especially top-notch. As difficult as it is to get a stable group to gel, the rotating roster of The Gena Rowlands Band is even more impressive; while I hear stylistic differences across the album, it is extremely cohesive, retaining a core sound while allowing each member to stretch within each song’s elastic framework.

(Lujo Records -- 3209 Jennie Drive, Morgan City, LA. 70380;; The Gena Rowlands Band --
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Review by . Review posted Thursday, July 3rd, 2008. Filed under Reviews.

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