According to Taxi Transitter, the three Ps of recording are pitch, pocket and passion. Change of Pace, the new album by Greyhounds, is a case study of those elements. Equal parts swagger and finesse, the 13 tracks marry contagious rhythms, vintage organs, smart lyrics and an emotional journey. If there’s a continuum, it’s the sense of groove and absolute commitment to the pocket. And, while guitarist and singer Andrew Trube lays down some searing solos, it’s the silk-and-smoke vocal of singer and keyboardist Anthony Farrell that is at the heart of Greyhounds’ sound. Touring in support of Change of Pace, released on the revived Memphis label Ardent Records (home of Big Star), the band will headline the first RiverMusic concert of the season on Friday, May 6.
Trube and Farrell have performed together for a decade and a half. They call themselves a “junkyard band,” but what the duo (sometimes a trio with versatile drummer Anthony Cole) plays is soul flavored by blues, funk, rock and psychedelia. Their songs, sometimes slow dances and sometimes angsty jams, feel at once of the moment and somehow reclaimed from another era. (Just to add another layer of intrigue, they often perform with a dancing spaceman.)
Farrell and Trube are also members of J.J. Grey and Mofro (they were onstage for that band’s last show at Pisgah Brewing Co.). But while they fit neatly into Grey’s Southern-fried rock lineup, the duo’s Greyhounds project actually long eclipses their tenure with Mofro.
From politically and socially charged tracks like “Walls” (“What happened to the feelin’ that we can make a change / ‘Power to the People’ is what they used to say”) to the levity of Trube-led songs like “Late Night Slice” (it’s about exactly what its title suggests), Change of Pace demonstrates the range and extensive musical vocabulary of its players. Two standouts are the Farrell-sung back-to-back tracks “Free” (a refreshingly egalitarian love song) and the aching “Cuz I’m Here,” which extends its sting into precisely placed white space.
The show takes place at the RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza in the River Arts District. Gates open at 5 p.m. Les Amis (members of Toubab Krewe and Zansa) and Major and The Monbacks (rock, psychedelic) also perform. Alternative transportation is encouraged, and shuttles are available from the Asheville Visitors Center. Admission is free. riverlink.org