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  • Melanie Henderson

The Great Affairs declare their greatness

Music, like food, is always best made with love. It doesn’t have to follow a recipe. It’s a bit of this and a bit of that. It’s about care and attention and instinct. It’s about joy in the process as well as the results.

There’s no doubt at all that Everybody Moves, Nobody Gets Hurt, the latest release from Nashville’s The Great Affairs – their follow-up to 2018’s Ten & 2 – has been made with a whole lot of love. That, and the cool hands of pros with obvious faith in their craft.

What we have here is end-to-end quality and style – if, after the first few faultless numbers, you’re fearing the disappointment of an empty-calorie filler you needn’t worry: it never comes.

Sure, there are instantly recognisable ingredients – a splash of Cheap Trick here, a twist of Tom Petty there, a glug of Americana and a dash of classic rock – but whatever’s in the mix is beside the point. What matters is the care that’s been taken with the overall balance.

There’s clever, commercial pop-rock. There’s easy, breezy blues. There’s acoustic, there’s gospel, there are down-tempo numbers that will speak volumes to newly-fractured hearts. But this is no eclectic experiment: the end product is wholesome, satisfying and oh-so-good for the soul.

Even more impressive is the fact that the ten tracks here were completed via remote recording sessions during lockdown. You would never be able to tell: there’s a real sheen to the finish – the band enlisted the expertise of Grammy award-winning mixer and engineer Michael Saint-Leon, along with Joshua Ketchmark – yet the production holds on to the spontaneous chemistry of a band that, in normal times, no doubt sets stages ablaze.

Opener I’m Alright is the punched-up pop of early Heartbreakers with the quirkiness of Fountains of Wayne, frontman Denny Smith sounding a little Robin Zander (in his non-snarly range). It’s an up-tempo slice of perfect radio fare that’s nonetheless spliced with searing guitar. From that to the jangly, light-touch tunefulness of Believe in Ghosts, the effortless style of Lyvia, and the sheer confidence of High on Rose – all cuts with the melodic certainty of the Goo Goo Dolls but with the power aimed squarely in your face.

Of real note are the slow-burning tearjerkers In the Wreckage – gorgeous acoustic meets just a touch of electric – and Worn Out Souls, perhaps founded on more traditional melodic rock, where Smith’s vocals are more towards the liquid gold of Lou Gramm and the whole thing just swells and swells until it maxes out in almost unbearable follicle-quivering anguish. It’s a beautiful thing.

But so as not to over-egg the emotion, we also have more straightforward, balmy Americana in the form of Satellite, which coasts effortlessly along on its understated riff, triggering visions of summer festivals and everything being right with the world.

You can feel the love in every track.

This is a band who know exactly who they are and where they come from.

And therein lies their greatness.

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