Grab some napkins, we’ve whipped up another batch of red-hot tracks that’ll leave you pushing and shoving for seconds. The Soggy Po proudly present Smoke, our first full-length recording as a septet. Eight new originals are featured alongside some of our favorite standards in an effort to allow the strongest part of New Orleans music to take over; the performance itself. If you’ve ever stopped by our weekly residency, you get it. Smoke aims to make you feel as if you’ve grabbed a seat right next to the stage on a Tuesday night in Dover. Clinking pint glasses punctuate the spitballing of smutty banter between bandmates and soon music emerges. The joy is audible, the energy is palpable, and the subtleties of musical conversation between friends are on full display throughout Smoke.
To start the show, a question: If it all were so simple, would it still be worth it now? “So Simple” is the tune and also the groove, but the gravity of such a question is anything but. While time and retrospection are common themes throughout the record, it seems a bit early in the journey to be reflective. Just sit tight, which is easier said than done with the infectious danceability of the opening track. The gang gets back on its business with “Answers for Sale,” an unmistakable nod to the searing, swinging stylings of Sidney Bechet. As you may know, sultry neuroticism is kind of our thing and has similarly stained some of the album’s originals like “Ether Rag” (think Scott Joplin meets Hunter S. Thompson) and “I Hardly Know Her” (Edgar Allan Poe crosses Katherine Knight). “Yeah Alright OK” details the cheeky exasperation that often befalls stale lovers, albeit buoyantly, as the album arrives at a lyricless core. One of our favorite beguines, “Pani Ti Moun” presents a model that we can only hope to emulate with the ensuing original “Carmona A.D.” This back-to-back sequence presents a chance to observe the group’s affection for, absorption of, and recreation within distinct New Orleanian styles, and if the group soloing here doesn’t get a rise out of you, see a doctor immediately.
Customarily, a New Orleans jazz funeral begins with a slow and somber musical procession. Upon burial, an upbeat second-line parades wildly, often for hours, as mourners celebrate the lives of those transitioning. The final two tracks of Smoke flip that custom, inviting the listener to imagine the album as a reverse chronology, bringing the retrospection of the opening track full circle. The ebullient boogie of “Birdseye” dovetails into the greasy dirge-like “Meet me at the Funeral,” juxtaposing notions of goodbye and renewal, continuity through the changing of states, like a match head’s one-way passage from hardened sulfur to shapeless energy. This Smoke hits shelves on June 8th at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH. Consider yourself ignited.