Growing up, whenever my family would drive somewhere pretty far from home, my parents always played the same albums in the car. Whether it was a summer hike, a trip to the ocean, or just holidays at my grandparents’, the same quintessential contemporary folk music would be streaming through the speakers. Artists like Ray LaMontagne, The Decemberists, Brandi Carlile, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Damien Rice, and other modern folk artists were the soundtrack to my childhood. They were the kind of albums that could hype everyone up on the way there, and also lull 7-year old me to sleep on the way back. Dustbowl Revival’s newest album, Is It You, Is It Me is this kind of album.
The first time I heard Is It You, Is It Me, I was sitting out in the woods near the river, during one of the first actually sunny days of the semester. At first listen, I felt like I was instantly transported back to the backseat of the family car, on our way to a weekend camping trip. This album is nostalgic, it’s easy-going, and it’s energetic: everything you look for in an adventure album.
Whether you like folk or not, everyone can appreciate the work that went into this newest release. The 6 core members of Dustbowl Revival have been a group for nearly a decade: writing music, travelling, and performing together. For this newest album, released January 31, 2020, Sam Kassirer (one of the album producers) urged the group to write the entire album in a 2-week creative burst. Each member of the band played multiple instruments for different songs, and even invited in local friends to sing as a choir, and more instrumentalists to feature. Each member had to step out of their comfort zone to create this album so quickly, and their evolution and well-roundedness as a band certainly shows through IIYIIM.
As well as personal boundaries, the band also pushed some societal boundaries with their lyrics. “Get Rid Of You” was inspired by the Parkland High School shooting in 2018; “Enemy” describes generational political gaps between parents and children. Despite these heavy topics, they still managed to make it upbeat and fun. Honestly, this album reminded me of all the most important reasons to make and listen to music: to step out of your comfort zone, to collaborate with other artists, to creatively evolve, and possibly even to have a nostalgic flashback moment in the middle of the woods on a sunny day.
Try: I Wake Up, Get Rid Of You, Dreaming, Enemy, Sonic Boom