Let It Burn

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Over their previous two outings, SoCal retro-enthusiasts GospelbeacH have filtered their tuneful songcraft and ample chops through an amber lens that attracted critical references to late-'60s country rock, Laurel Canyon mysticism, the Grateful Dead's earthier moments, and perhaps more than any other, the fiery pop jangle of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. None of this came as a surprise given the similarly nostalgic bent of frontman Brent Rademaker's previous outfit Beachwood Sparks. After the sunny Pacific-Americana of their debut, GospelbeacH's compass shifted a bit more toward American trad rock and power pop on 2017's excellent Another Summer of Love. Let It Burn is their third long-player and if anything, it continues in the warm, Petty-ish pop glow of its predecessor while bringing back a little bit of the wooly guitar spirit of their first album. This is thanks in part to returning guitar hero Neal Casal, another former Beachwood Spark who made a strong impression on GospelbeacH's debut but sat out their sophomore set. His searing solos and deftly cultivated tone are a significant though bittersweet presence on Let It Burn, as he took his own life not long after these sessions. For their parts, Rademaker and songwriting partner/drummer Trevor Beld-Jimenez have turned in another tight, thoughtful collection of organic, tube-driven folk-rock & roll with plenty of heart and some swagger. "Bad Habits," a ballad, opens the album and serves as one of its highlights, setting up more muscular cuts like "Dark Angel" and the sprightly "I'm So High," before swerving back to more tender fare like the country-toned "Baby (It's All Your Fault)" and the harmonic gem "Get it Back." GospelbeacH are a great rock band, but on this album at least, it's their softer, more stripped-down tunes that carry the day and provide Let It Burn's most memorable moments.

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