Colorado's beloved alt-country band Gasoline Lollipops release their new album Soul Mine this month, with a vinyl release party happening December 16th at The Fox Theatre in Boulder. The band will be making their homecoming after a long stint in Europe touring throughout Belgium and the Netherlands. Fans and listeners will not be disappointed, as this album gives us the rugged-punk, country rock’n’roll sound fans know and love while exploring themes of emotional heartbreak, pain, motivation, and growth. The opening track and title of the album hint at the content within, as the band welds together folk and untamed alternative-country-rock to produce a record full of depth, stories, and music that compels listeners to take a stand while also contemplating.
Clay Rose's voice immediately reminded me of the likes of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen; deep, gritty and dark, yet sustained with unwavering intensity and truth. The title track begins with a soulful, bluesy opening accompanying Rose's rich vocals and the band's groovy guitar solos. Lyrics like "started out digging for diamonds and gold/now I'm digging through the long, dark night of the soul/to see dawn" and "love springs from deep wells/faith is born in the forge of hell/forge on" allude to the theme of the album: one of transformation. "Soul Mine," evolves as a track as well. At one point the refrain builds and then pulls back, stripped down to bare instruments and vocals, only to rebuild into an epic finish that swells. This engrossing track sets the tone for the album as listeners dive deep into stories of loss and evolution.
The first half of the album is filled with songs that showcase Gasoline Lollipop's eclectic style and ability to explore country rock beyond the confines of a genre. Rose's profound voice sounds subterranean and electrified at times, while other times rustic and lightened, yet still powerful. Drum beats, guitar solos, and harmonic keys shine through in many of the tracks as listeners settle into the tales that the album chronicles. "Woman and a Gun," the third track, begins slowly and vocally; it sounds like a story told near a fire out west about an outlaw named Jessie. The tune's refrain breaks the early, rustic, folktale feel as the track builds. The second half of the song surges with lyrics, "all my faith is a bullet/all my God is a gun/all this world was just smoke and mirrors/I'm gonna break them one by one." After repeating the last verse, "gonna break them one by one," the song launches into a fast, dynamic progression full of intricate guitar solos and percussion that intensifies, elevating the ending of the track by taking it to an edge.
As the album continues, listeners move through songs of heartbreak. "Casanova" wavers in and out of a harsh rock’n'roll sound and a slow, somber refrain: "If a man goes livin'/for the heart for too long/he's bound to be eaten alive." The track "Montreal" details an ending and nostalgia for the past, as GasPops evoke emotion and leave nothing left unsaid.
"Burns" comes soon after and opens with strings that cry out from the start. There is an evocative darkness hovering over the track, that reminded me of The National. However, Rose's voice builds and breaks boundaries as he repeats "and it burns" towards the end of the track. This one gave me chills, because once again, it felt like GasPops were taking me into the fire with them. Their music goes beyond instruments and vocals; their passionate lyrics, layered with brilliant instrumentals, grab you and take you into an experience they construct with their music, one in which you feel the pain from a past memory that their music expresses in the present moment.
After exploring more heavy transformation and darkness with tracks titled, "Ghost of a Man," and "Leaving Alone," the album ends with the tune, "Put me to the Task," a hopeful send off, complete with elements of upbeat country rock. The steel guitar and violin liven the tune along with Rose's vocals and the warm harmonies that round out the refrain. The bass carries through and lights a spark under the folds of sound that grow throughout the song. The song finishes off with lyrics, "Well I know/time has come to make good what we don't/but I'm eager to please." We are left with some light at the end of this dark, yet resounding album.
Soul Mine takes listeners to a vulnerable threshold, all the while showcasing the band's dynamic sounds, sounds that truly liberate them from one specific genre. This mighty and gripping album is one that listeners can relate to, contemplate, and even dance to, making it an album that anyone can connect with. Don't miss Gasoline Lollipops album release party on December 16th at The Fox Theatre, followed by their NYE show December 31 at Hodi's Half Note in Fort Collins!
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.