Santa Barbara Records Presents 'CaliAmericana Vol. 2'
Santa Barbara Records’ new compilation album CaliAmericana, Vol. 2: A
Compilation Inspired by the Legacy of Kenny Loggins is more than your
standard cookie-cutter tribute. The fourteen covers of Loggins’
songwriting included on this release recast rather than regurgitate and
offer music with an Americana roots music twist. Re-envisioning such
material can fall flat in the wrong hands, but Santa Barbara Records
involves top-flight talent with this release, and they’ve chosen wisely
from Loggins’ extensive catalog of songs.
Chris Beland’s cover of “Return to Pooh” from Loggins’ 1994 children’s
album is an audacious way to open this release. It serves notice that
the creative forces behind CaliAmerican, Vol. 2 know Loggins’ work far
better than most and aren’t relying on Loggins’ monster hits alone. They
are plumbing deep into the songwriter’s catalog and reshaping
lesser-known gems that nevertheless sparkle with the same luster.
Beland’s playful and intimate reading of “Return to Pooh” kicks off this
release in memorable fashion.
The foundation of Jackson Gillies’ “Head Over Heels” is piano, vocals,
scattershot guitar, and organ entering the frame near the song’s end.
Gillies takes these relatively few elements, however, and crafts a
moving rendition of Loggins’ original that serves as a showcase for
Gillies’ considerable talents. CaliAmericana’s performers understand one
of the chief strengths of Loggins’ materials lies with his vocal
arrangements. Trevor Bahnson’s “I Want You to Know” emphasizes that. The
acoustic guitar framework and keyboard glow surrounding the song are
vehicles for Bahnson’s outstanding vocal and the production highlights
his gifts. The six-string playing, however, is delicate and emotive
supporting the vocals.
Dominique Pruitt’s remodels “Won’t Hold My Breath” as a blues
stripped-bare and her airy re-arrangement of the track gives her voice
ample room to shine. There are several dramatic pauses and
forward-lunges layered throughout the song. Glen Phillips’ stab at the
iconic pop gem “I’m Alright”, taken from the soundtrack to Caddyshack,
springs to effervescent life in his hands. You can’t contain the song’s
irrepressible pop swell even with acoustic guitar and minimal
Hunter Hawkins’ “What a Fool Believes” provides one of the album’s
unquestionably pristine peaks. Hawkins thankfully doesn’t resist the
temptation to build her cover around a band performance rather than
opting to tackle it solo. She escalates the arrangement, however,
climaxing with that moment when the drums kick in and she finds her
immediate stride. Her soulful vocals sparkle in every line. Chris Beland
returns with “Hotel Song” and excels with radically different Loggins
material than the earlier “Return to Pooh”. This is shimmering top-shelf
pop in Beland’s hands, and he delivers it with a warm and thoughtful
Jackson Gillies closes the album with his rendition of Loggins’ “This is
It”. It’s a scorched earth solo piece and its emotional tenor puts
everything on the line, holding nothing back. The late inclusion of
intense guitar passages near the song’s conclusion diversifies it some,
but the earlier vocal/piano thrust provides plenty of drama. It’s a
emphatic close to a rare beast – a compilation tribute album that
doesn’t miss the mark. We’re instead treated to a release that makes
nothing less than a case for full-on musical re-evaluation.