Call it folk rock, call it Chicago-inspired blues, call it political funk, The Darrin James Band has your flavour covered in Strange Storm, a timely and befitting album for the current socio-political landscape. Sounding thoroughly Steven Van Zandt from his Disciples of Soul era, the titular Darrin James and company provide astoundingly thunderous music for whatever mood one might need to be enhanced to, whether it’s an apologetic treatise for their hometown or a tizzy of passion and lust.
There’s a great deal of implied unbelieving on Strange Storm, with kickers such as, “Don’t trust adults who believe in fairy tales,” and “Maybe Jesus died for all of our sins/maybe the answer is all within us,” though the more likely answer is that Darrin is likely calling out the disingenuous nature that has become ever-present within the circles of so many cats.
On the lighter side of the equation, The Darrin James band is some hell-raising (albeit thought-provoking) fun. Once the outfit gets rolling, Strange Storm presents some real Meters-style madcap romps through the course of the album, surging through some lengthy tracks in what seems like zero time flat. James’ music is one that recreates a live festival experience, with imagined soundstages blaring throughout plastic glasses of rosé flowing through the air all the while.
Though culturally searing at times, there’s still something effervescent about Strange Storm. Blame it on the horns or James’ throaty vibrato as he maneuvers though some dense lyricism, but it reminds one of the somehow ebullient preacher on doomsday. Much like a Vietnam area folkie with storm clouds on the horizon, one can’t help but feel somehow uplifted by the example they are setting.