Let It Grow, the sophomore effort by Big Daddy Love, introduces itself from the first track as both a high-energy roots romp and a thoughtful and high-minded collection of songs. The title track is a love song, but the love in question is spiritual and brotherly rather than romantic. “Tend your garden in the sunshine, let it grow in the rain, let me love you in the meantime, for we are all the same,” songwriter Daniel Justin Smith sings on the chorus.
“Down from the Mountain” waxes philosophical about the place of a man — here, a mountain man — in the modern world. “Asheville don’t need a man who only plays old-time,” Smith surmises. Fittingly, Big Daddy Love tempers its own Appalachian roots with rocker inclinations. “Sweet Water” is a growling blues rock number with gritty guitars and tart snare all but drowning out the pluckings of a banjo. “Home Tree” is also more electric than acoustic but, borrowing a page from mainstream country, it’s an easy crossover between the two.
“Love Light” returns to mountain themes — streams, stars, honeysuckle and a hoedown beat that’s just hippy enough to recall Jerry Garcia Band in its free spirited heyday. Danceable and fist-pump-worthy, “Southern Hospitality” is a cheeky mountain anthem with some serious rock guitar.
It’s easy to get caught up in Smith’s skillful lyrics, but Big Daddy Love (electric guitarist Joey Recchio, Brian Swenk on acoustic and electric banjos, bassist Ashley Sutton and drummer Kelly Linville) is a stella group of players and the musicianship should not be overlooked. Spooky, spacey, experimental “Mid-Summer’s Dream” delves into ambiance and electronics (while keeping the Appalachian string theme at its core) before sliding into “Dream Walker.” That track, weighing in at nine minutes, is haunting and pulsates with myth and ghost stories. Perhaps not for everyday listening, the goosepimple-inducing song is definitely one of the album’s stand-out moments.
Big Daddy Love holds a CD release party for Let It Grow at Pisgah Brewing tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 8. Showtime is 8 p.m., The Broadcast opens. Cover is $5; $15 (advance, online) includes shuttle transportation.
Watch Big Daddy Love play “Let It Grow” here: