Some folks, once they reach adulthood, leave home and never look back. Others rarely leave home, dying mere miles (or even feet) away from where they were born. But it seems that wisdom and maturity is best gained by those who move and travel about but never forget whence they game. We’re All The Same, the latest release from Knoxville-based band Handsome and the Humbles, features that definite sense of “place” as a base for the path that one follows.
The first song on the album, “Back Home”, begins (with gentle acoustic guitar) at the end, as the narrator wishes to return home after death and ponders his legacy – “Write down my story and write it down well/Try to mix in some lies and a couple tall tales” – hoping to liven it up just a wee bit. “Down To The Wire” gazes at youth with the knowledge our younger selves lacked: “We were racing our innocence down to the wire.” Even though we don’t fully realize it at the time, we’re all chasing the last moments of young wonder before adulthood sets in.
And, yes, that dreaded adult behavior does arrive, both in life and in song. “The Sun’s Gonna Rise (Don’t Be Sad)” looks back at a dying relationship with a sort of fondness: “We still had more sweet than we had bitter.” “Tried So Hard” addresses religious ambiguity, as a man wrestles with the realization of his childhood devotion. “Could Have Been” mentions love as (and intertwined with) drugs: “Trying oh so frantically to chase the ghost of that first high.” And the title track reflects our current tribal nature in the setting of a local watering hole – “And I begin to judge you ‘cause I think you’re judging me” – but finds our common ground:
Seems we’re at an impasse, and there’s nothing left to do,
But give in to the reason that we came,
And realize that behind a beer we’re all the same.
The album spotlights the songs of “Handsome” (Josh Smith, vocals and guitar) and the solid musicianship of “The Humbles”: Jason Chambers (guitar, vocals), Tyler Huff (bass), Josh Hutson (guitar), Lauryl Brisson (drums), Zack Miles (guitar), and Jay Birkbeck (keys). In particular, the guitar/organ trade-off between Hutson and Birkbeck on the old-school, slow-dance weeper “I Love You Still” is a musical standout. Also chipping in are Andrew Leahey (guitar and vocals), Mic Harrison (vocals) and Erin Smith (vocals). The band produced the album and recorded it in Brimstone Studios in Helenwood, Tennessee. Get yours, right here: http://www.handsomeandthehumbles.com/