The very name the Dustbowl Revival conjures images of the Great Depression -- not just the prairies ravaged by drought, but the country and folk that were made during the '30s. The Los Angeles group chose their name for a reason and perhaps it made sense on their earliest records, particularly 2015's With a Lampshade On, but this 2017 eponymous album finds the octet wildly expanding their purview, adding a heavy dose of soul and funk that enlivens the band. The shift is evident from the get-go, when the record kicks off with the rowdy "Call My Name," a high-octane groover where the horns are pushed to the front. Throughout the album, the Dustbowl Revival return to this retro-soul sound -- "Good Egg" is as propulsive as the best Motown, "The Story" is an excellent hybrid of Philly and Memphis soul, "Gonna Fix You" bops along to its effervescent horns -- but the record is cannily structured as two complementary halves. Once the new sound is established, the group starts threading in elements of jazz -- "Debtors' Prison" is a plaintive little folk song where the horns are coloring, not the feature; "Got Over" is its heart-tugging flip -- and this is where the Dustbowl Revival wind up feeling like something new. Like a lot of Americana bands, the Dustbowl Revival are magpies taking their favorite bits from the past, but few other acts are rooted in string bands and swing, let alone sharp enough to tie this era to the soul of the '60s. It's a fresh and exciting record, a celebration of spirit and soul.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine