I was recently contacted by Magic Music, a Colorado based band originally from the 1970s, dubbed, "Colorado's First Jam Band" to check out their album and write a review. I wasn't quite sure what to think, I had never done an album review before and the name Magic Music, seemed a bit corny but I received the album and was pleasantly surprised. I then reached out to a few friends in Colorado to see if there was news of this band. A few said they had heard of Magic Music and one of my friends had even listened to a recent NPR interview done with one of the band members. I listened to the album, ceremoniously, like I did when I was younger, sitting down and really consuming the music, not just listening to it but becoming it.
Magic Music had never recorded a full album during their six-year stint as a live-touring act. When they reunited, they began work on their first album that came out in August 2016. The self-titled album begins with, "Bring the Morning Down." In the first few seconds of the song, the listener is whisked away by the flutes introduction; suddenly transported, walking down a garden path on a warm spring day. The flute is an instrument that is missing in today's popular and even Jam music. With bands like, Jethro Tull and Marshall Tucker Band adding this instrument in the 1970s, helped popularize and leave a lasting memory on popular music. I have always enjoyed the mystical sound that only a flute can bring and I think we need more of it.
The lyrics to "Bring the Morning Down" and throughout this entire album are extremely catchy. I find myself humming many of these tunes. While I visited the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico this past month, I took the Magic Music album with me and I would find myself lost, not only in the ancient ruins of the Mayan people but the music itself. I found this album to be great for traveling.
When I listen to this album, I get a true Jam-Grass feel. In the 1970s there was no genre like Jam-Grass, this band seems to be a pioneer for that sound. There are a few rockin' moments within the Magic Music album that stand out but mostly its pretty laid-back and lighthearted.
I was a little leery at first about the name Magic Music, and I wasn't sure that it fit the Jam band scene but after thinking about it and listening to the album many times, Magic Music works perfectly. Not only does the name match the sound of the band but the magical quality of the music as well. Many 70s bands had much worse names. The 1970s was a time filled with record label bullshit and faux rock over production. It was probably a smart move for these guys to go back to the mountains but I am glad they have decided to give it another go, because this album and their songs seem to be innovators of the Jam-Grass genre itself.
Magic Music takes influences from traditional folk and Irish jigs and mixes them with great vocal harmonies, reminiscent of Crosby Stills and Nash. The song, "Bright Sun Bright Rain" really accentuates these influences. Their sound is very familiar to me and has taken on a life of its own. "Mole Stumble," is the perfect song to wake up to and start your day with. One of my favorite tracks from Magic Music is, "Gandy Dancer;" the deep chords in the beginning of the track really give way to the lightness and progression of the song. This song sounds like Jam-Grass to me, much like Railroad Earth, or even Yonder Mountain String Band. “Carolina Wind” breezes deep and thoughtful chord structures into the album and is a great transition piece, much like a sea shanty or sailor’s tune. It reminds me of my time near the Outer Banks of North Carolina. “Flat Brush Jig” and “El Dorado Canyon” both are slower songs on the album and seem to have a more jam/improvisational quality but all of these songs are very well worked out. I would be highly interested in seeing all of these songs performed live and given the Jam treatment. The musicianship of the band members is top notch and I am sure they are prone to jamming out and extending the songs on stage. “Sundance” takes its direction from Irish folk vibes and with somewhat cheesy lyrics but I am brace the cheese. “A Cossack’s Song” takes on a different feel than the rest of the album, more of an ethereal sound, like Pink Floyd, but with added vocal harmonies. “Old Man Das” is a great instrumental addition to this album and reminds me of traditional Bluegrass. “Hayin” has a funky blues sound that shows off the chops of each player. I really enjoyed this one because it gets funkier than the rest of the album. “The Cosmic Jingle” closes up the album on a thoughtful note but it left me wanting more.
“Magic Music was born from the spirit of youth,” recalls founding member Will Luckey. “There is an unmatched freedom that is generated by a group of young guys reaching into their imagination, creating, and realizing thoughtful musical ideas without boundaries.”
“It was truly the power of music that brought us together, " Daniels said an all access music interview. "It was those songs, and when we are playing them live, I close my eyes and I hear the parts that the different people are playing, and singing the harmonies: I could be 18 years or older again. It's a true Time Machine." From All Access Interview Music.allaccess.com
This statement can be seen throughout Magic Music's entire album and I have always said, “Live music is like time travel.” And I think that fits with all music in general, not just live music. Music is one of the only things that came transport me to the time when I first heard that song or even a particular occasion in my life, music is one of the ways I remember.
This album is profound and very well recorded. With special guest performances by: Sam Bush, the Doobie Brothers John Mcfee, Little Feat’s, Bill Payne and violinist, Scarlet Rivera. Magic Music band needs to be heard. While there are other bands doing Jam-Grass, Bluegrass, Irish folk, no one does it quite like Magic Music. The vocal harmonies really shine like no other band out there right now. I am extremely impressed by this album and a few of the songs within have become part of the soundtrack to my life. I wake up some mornings and throw on Magic Music to get my day started; with such positive and uplifting songs and lyrics, it’s hard not to stay upbeat.
I hope this review helps spread the word about Magic Music and I would love to catch this band live sometime soon. There is so much more to this story, from interviews to videos and even an upcoming documentary. You can check all this and more out at magicmusicband.com and the album is on Spotify right now.
This is actually my first album review and I want to thank Magic Music and their marketing team for the copy of their album and allowing me to review it. I had more fun than I thought I would and I even made my own musical memories within the songs. I wish Magic Music the best in all of their future musical endeavors.
Jam Band Purist
12/6/2018 03:14:37 am
Magic Music is a good band. Actually, they remind me of my childhood since my father used to listen to their songs when I was still a kid. Your review was so accurate. I can also see this as a way of respect, and I couldn't be happier to have read these kinds words you have for them. Though the members are already old, you can still see how their passion for music fuels them to always be at their best whenever they are performing. I would love to see more performances from them!
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.