Nashville based pop/rock band The Great Affairs’ latest album, Ricky took the wheels.., is a great affair indeed. This newly released collection of well-crafted songs picks up where their 2009 eponymous debut left off, yet raises the musical bar significantly.
Lead vocalist Denny Smith penned all 12 tracks contained in this instantly likeable and highly memorable piece of musical ear candy, which was produced by the band and recorded by Michael Saint-Leon at his Antioch recording studio The Switchyard. The album sounds instantaneously fresh and familiar, as it includes ever-so-subtle hints of Tom Petty and Bon Jovi, which are most apparent in the songs, “Bastard Son” and “Last Good Memory.”
The first track, “Feels Like Home,” instantly demands the audience’s attention with its highly addictive chorus, slide guitar, exquisite background harmonies and catchy melody. This is a perfect choice to open with, as it sets the mood for the rest of the album and gives the listener fair warning that great things lie ahead. “In this moment/we’re as young as we’ll ever be/and this feels like home to me,” sings Smith, which sounds as if he is welcoming new and returning fans alike to this musical jaunt.
The amps are cranked up on the outstanding “Inside Your Head,” which sums up this album perfectly as it slowly works its magic inside the listener’s head before transitioning to the stripped down “My Apologies.” This somber yet beautiful ballad’s acoustic-based delivery suits Smith’s delicate and heartfelt lyrics perfectly, without becoming overly sentimental, and sits nicely between two rockers. This balance of hard and soft continues throughout this set’s fine assortment of songs.
The appropriately titled final track, “Last Good Memory,” provides the perfect ending as the pace alternates between fast and slow, which allows the intensity to build throughout its five-minute duration. “Everything makes me anxious in this dead end town/sometimes I wish the kids would burn it down/I can watch my last good memory fade/and leave me here with just this mess we made,” confesses Smith before bringing the album to a fitting close.
Ultimately, it’s the sum of all the parts that make this highly enjoyable album a success. From the inspired lyrics to the excellent guitar work, Ricky took the wheels.. is guaranteed to leave listeners satisfied and anticipating what’s to come from this highly promising band. This praiseworthy recording sounds like a major label deal should be waiting just around the corner. If this album isn’t perfect, then it’s damn close.
Recommended tracks to download: all of them.