The California Honeydrops newest album, A River’s Invitation is a blend of American musical styles as the five piece Bay Area outfit pushes soul, blues, funk and pop around a strong set of singing pipes from frontman Lech Wierzynski.
Backing him up are Ben Malament (drums, washboard, percussion), Johnny Bones (tenor saxophone, clarinet), Lorenzo Loera (keys, melodica) and Beau Bradbury (bass, percussion). The groups playing feels drum tight and sounds excellent as production is crisp and clear possibly because recording took place in comfortable surroundings (Wierzynski’s living room). With song structure, production values and performance the group seems to have confidently made a studio album that can compete with it’s live show.
The title opens things with a slow soul grace formed around an alive bass line and powerful vocals, a worthy effort for the title of the full disk and a standout track. The Motown leaning “When It Was Wrong” follows dealing with sneaking around on relationships while the “Crazy Girl” and “This Time” continues that vibe while increasing the levels of funk.The blues are everywhere here with “Cry Baby Blues” and “Jolie” being the two best in that vein while “On A Rainy Day” takes from some Jimi Hendrix tinged electric blues incorporating a smooth wah-wah guitar line.
Even with a few forgettable tracks (“Brokedown Parts 1 & 2” “Rockaway”) the band is going for a overall album feel with strong singles mixed in; even evident when they keep it instrumental on the gospel influenced “Lead Me Home”. The album closer harkens back to the opener with an uplifting powerful effort called “Long Way”, hinting at even more to come from this talented group of players.