Condor & Jaybird are a thing in their native Quad Cities. (I was told their CD release show was attended by over 300 people.) But somehow, despite living an hour away from their home base, I have yet to see them. Their live show is, by multiple friends’ accounts, chaotic and blissful; that rare moment when everybody comes together into a single pulsing organism. This album, however, is my first exposure to the music of Condor & Jaybird–for which I am glad, because, before getting to the meat of the music, I have to declare the recording sounds incredible.
“The Power” starts off with a solemn and familiar keyboard progression, before crashing into the hazy wall of sound that permeates the rest of the album. This is BIG music, bombastic and heartfelt, but not strainingly emo. After a couple psychedelic guitar workouts, the album detours to a softer place. “Half a Man” starts with acoustic guitar, then gets that Jesus and Mary Chain wall-of-sound thing going. “Patiently” is a straight up ballad, ending with angelic harmonies and piano glissandos.
Catchy as these songs are, they employ a variety of compositional hiccups that keep them interesting. The title track starts with an uptempo acoustic guitar picking octaves while bird sounds echo in the background. It quietly builds to an anthemic chorus, which trails off abruptly after half-a-minute. Elsewhere, the playing shines through. “Morning Sun,” for example, features some nice Bigsby tremelo guitar and George Harrison-inspired minor key picking. The sunny ‘60s vibe continues on “Feeling Grows,” which would not sound out of place on classic AM radio with its beat feel and slightly Eastern guitar melodies. The album crescendos with the instrumental penultimate track, “Light Power,” which leads into the epic closer, “All of It.” The pacing throughout the album is well-thought-out, making it stand as a single piece as much as any of its constituent parts.
“The Power” is an ambitious album, an amalgam of styles Condor & Jaybird skillfully assemble into an individualized expression. Most young musicians may employ this kitchen sink of influences, but few combine the elements in such a cogent fashion.