White Denim’s journey has seen them travel from sleazy, sloppy garage rock basements through to the marbled bathrooms of 70s Americana. Previous album, ‘D’, was full of wiggy jams and nods to prog, jazz and hazy psychedelia. But it was always important to remember was that they are a group as much about now as they are about digging through their vintage rock records.
‘Corsicana Lemonade’ then is another chance to play spot the influence – there’s boogie rock, soft rock ballads and nods towards blues and country, there’s even Thin Lizzy glam rock. But all this crate digging investigation ultimately proves fruitless as White Denim transcend all these influences to create something that is simply them.
‘I know you think it’s easy to change / But it’s a symptom of age’, they sing on opener ‘At Night In Dreams’ and this is a band who have grown into a band sure enough of themselves to play with their influences even more. There’s also another factor – a man by the name of Jeff Tweedy. And, though only two songs emerged from those sessions with the Wilco leader, they were to prove pivotal to the album’s development. Tweedy’s unwavering view that they play live brought a freshness and fresh perspective on their sound.
Indeed, it seems like an album in a constant state of movement and, despite the 70s influence, of freshness and invention. From the Thin Lizzy slippery stomp of ‘At Night in Dreams’ through the skittering jam of the title track and on to the good-time boogie of ‘Come Back’, the first half of the album is a joy.
The second half is even better: ‘Let It Feel Good’, with the record’s central mantra of ‘If it feels good, just let it feel good for ya’, is all honky tonk riffs while ‘Pretty Green’ has dirty guitars swaggering atop an irresistible groove. And ‘A Place To Start’, one of the songs produced with Tweedy, is a beautiful ending – and adds Stevie Wonder as another influence.
Looking at it from afar, ‘Corsicana Lemonade’ can be seen simply as an impeccably crafted 70s album, a ‘barbecue record’, as singer James Petralli has said, but it underestimates the way that White Denim can take the familiar and make it feel new, charge it up and make it something special. It’s time to go back to the future.
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