The debut from Danny Arakaki quickly crawls out from under the heavy shadow of Garcia Peoples, establishing itself as a completely different strain with a familiar fragrance. Fans of the band’s Cosmic Americana will find a lot to hold onto here, but that’s only a jumping off point for the direction of Tumble in Shade. Arakaki’s been one of the prominent driving forces behind Garcias over the past few years, and his songwriting and cool water vocals remain a core component here as well, but the record removes the dynamic of Arakaki’s riff volleying with bandmates Tom Malach and Derek Spaldo. The shift lets the specter of Jam burn off in favor of excursions into psychedelic folk, country-soaked ‘70s burners, and dawn-light jazz rock.
What really makes the record is the cadre of folks that Danny has assembled around him on Tumble. The record has a feeling of a weeklong studio exchange of ideas, an egalitarian vision of ‘70s excess that’s more grounded for its aversion to myopic minds. This is a clear-headed No Other as written by the ensemble, not dictated from the songwriter’s pulpit. The hole left by Malach and Spaldo is filled by Mike Bones (Endless Boogie, Weak Signal) and his leads add a growl that’s often come forward in his own work. The guitar hackles are tempered by a liberal dose of pedal steel by Dan Iead (Broken West, Jess Williamson) and keys from Winston Cook-Wilson. The pair provide an airbag of ambiance for the others to fall into at any moment, shading in the edges with amber hues and lavender swirls. Rachel Herman and Samara Lubelski (The Sonora Pine, Tower Recordings) add violin, while omnipresent head Ryan Jewel pushes the pulse behind them.
The album takes time to dig its way into the listener’s brain. Like his work elsewhere, there’s a sense that the recorded songs are just starting points for what might unfold on stage, but more than ever Tumble In Shade feels like a tonal statement, a mercurial record that soaks into the skin and shifts along with the listener’s moods. New listens uncover more of what the ensemble has put together here, from searing guitars on “Born in the Garden,” burnt sax lines and plaintive piano on “Navigators,” and grey-skied strings on “Crosswalk Heat.” I’ve long been a fan of what Arakaki’s doing with Garcia Peoples, but this enters a new chapter, and one that I hope he keeps exploring.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.