Saturday Night -- the anticipated sophomore album from Easton's Acoustic Kitty Project -- sounds just like the name implies: a whiskey-soaked, barroom bash full of shoulder-to-shoulder slow dances (“San Francisco,” "Well") and pint-raising sing-a-longs (“Mountain Mama,” "We Are One").
“This Boy” is pure country rock boogie, a barn-burner of an opening track that encapsulates the spirited, honky tonk vibe of Saturday Night.
Lead vocalist Carter Lansing channels his inner Man in Black by utilizing a wry sense of humor in his lyrics while making sure to keep his poetry honest and forthright.
On the rustic slow-burner “Company Store,” he poignantly questions the state of the American dream. Later, during the foot-stomper “Kind of Fool,” Lansing muses, “If I ran into Pandora, I’d try to get in her box / her heart may be a revolving door but at least it’s never locked.”
Lyrical fortitude aside, the strength of the album lies in the fluidity and finesse of the musicianship.
Bassist Marty Chamberlain and drummer Bill Matlack Jr. anchor a tight rhythm section that keeps the rest of the music rumbling forward; Chamberlain’s bass strolls are especially tasty, as he musically sinks his teeth into a meaty bottom end.
Guitarist-producer Michael Carr hits his marks with the perfect amount of gusto, stepping out of the pocket at just the right moments to lay down tantalizing lead runs.
All of this is complemented by keyboardist Dan DeChellis, a veteran of the Lehigh Valley music circuit who, like the rest of the Acoustic kitties, demonstrates a mastery of his respective craft; plinking and plunking his way through the fields of rollicking country-western jams (“Last Man on Earth”) and jangly, up-tempo numbers (“Gallows Hill”).
Saturday Night closes out its tab with a fist-pumper of a title track that speaks to pretty much every band who has played to a drinking crowd -- punctuated by a sly, sarcastic nod to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird."
It should be pointed out that I have been fortunate enough to get to know Lansing and the rest of his band on a personal level, thus in many ways making it difficult to be critical of a work of which I know the emotional attachment and investment behind it.
Yet, even with a critical ear, it is damn near impossible to find flaws on this album. Saturday Night is more than just a collection of songs; it's a testimonial, delivered with passion, fervor and spit-through-your-teeth grit.
Go ahead and leave those dancing shoes on. Saturday Night will keep you on your feet all week long.
Acoustic Kitty Project's "Saturday Night" will be available July 31 on Bandcamp.com. Catch the band Aug. 4 at Das Awkscht Fescht in Macungie, Aug. 5 at Rock Creek Tavern in Phillipsburg, and Aug. 7 at Musikfest in Bethlehem.