It’s not often that an album’s title represents its music as specifically and accurately as San Francisco Music Club’s debut, Love and Freedom. Incorporating a wide array of styles, including rock, reggae, funk, R&B, and Afro-Cuban into a sound that erupts with vibrancy, skill, and joy, it’s an engaging and fun way to spend an hour celebrating life, and chances are you’ll start singing along as you listen.
Lead by former The Edge guitarists/vocalists Jimmy Dillon and Lorin Rowan, the self-professed super-group is comprised of eight musicians who play everything from bass, drums, sax, harmonica, trumpet, and percussion. A “journey through the back roads of some of the great music traditions and cultures in the US, Caribbean, and Africa,” their sound adds some Caribbean flair to the standard New Orleans flavor. Just about every second of Love and Freedom feels like a meticulously arranged and melodically inviting party.
Opener “Crazy Lovesick Blues” features Lorin and Dillon trading off vocals as tribal percussion and colorful guitar riffs dance. “4 Winds” is a slower, calmer piece that relies more on horns and a pop music foundation, and “Love Can Be” is a relatively poignant track that allows the musicianship to take a beat seat to the message. There’s also some nicely reserved guitar work in “Perfection” and tricky harmonies in “Istanbul.”
Naturally, “Te Quiero” is full of Latin instrumentation and influence, while “I’m OK I’m Alright” oozes with fantastic horn counterpoints. And then there’s the interesting cover of The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,” which essentially reinterprets the song through the lens of ska. The title track closes the album with plenty of excitement and optimism.
Love and Freedom is a perfect record to listen to while relaxing on a beach or traveling on a warm sunny day. San Francisco Music Club has combined different genres wonderfully, creating a thoroughly enjoyable multicultural collage. If you’re a fan of horns, funky guitar, invigorating percussion, and carefree attitudes, you’ll find plenty to like here.