Michigan based band Paradise Outlaw just released the new album Shadows, and the songs definitely live up to requests to “turn it up!” The originals are solid, with lyrics and score venturing into unexpected corners. Any songwriter who can couple ‘voodoo’ with ‘Cadillac’ in a successful work deserves a hat tip.
It took only a few songs from Paradise Outlaw’s first album to turn me into a fan of their Americana music.
I listened to the new album—I use Spotify for streaming. I don’t pay for the premium version, so it took awhile because of the ads. It was worth it. I’ll hear an album and usually find one song I love. I found quite a few I love on this album.
Kevin Langeland writes the songs—lyrics and most of the scores. Once the compositions are done, Langeland said, the band members huddle up throughout the process to tweak and refine until they’re finished. Langeland said, “The band members also bring important ideas and refinements.”
Langeland has an excellent command of lyrics, and there’s a lot of poetry in his music. One of my favorites on the album is the song “Factories and Fields.” It’s an ode of sorts, to the working man who perseveres and embraces responsibility—returning from working and opening the door because “the reason he got up today is sitting just inside.”
“Voodoo Cadillac” caught my attention—if ever an adjective contrasted starkly with a noun, this title does it. The song is an up tempo ballad of sorts, with lines like you “start to question what you thought you knew” as the story progresses.
My hands down favorite on the album is “Ain’t Your Fool.” Strong on roots blues, made magical by vocalist Colin Tobin and by the sensational harmony delivered by vocalist Danielle Cosby, this song makes a very big impression. If this band got radio play on a level with what I call the corporate pop sector, “Ain’t Your Fool” would be a top hit. Lines like “Queen of my nights, girl,” hit home in more ways than one. This song, in my opinion, is the queen of the album.
Take note—you can call any radio station and ask for a song to be played. People used to do that back in the day before computers and streaming. It still works. I interviewed a radio exec not long ago, and asked him how a band could get their music on radio. He told me they should tell their fans to call in and request their music.
All the songs on the album Shadows are tightly rendered, masterfully constructed, and a good mix of styles and genres while staying faithful to a skilled Southern rock motif.
I asked Langeland to tell me the place he’d like to play above all. “The Ryman,” he said. The band’s goals are to keep on playing, “trying to make it catch on, and play bigger venues.” That shouldn’t be a problem. Last year Paradise Outlaw won the B93 (WBCT) Battle to the Bash celebration in Grand Rapids, Michigan. WBCT is the most powerful radio station in North America. The competition is stiff, replete with talented musicians.
Paradise Outlaw band members juggle two different worlds right now—the world of music and the world of day jobs. It’s no small feat to produce a whole album while doing that. Langeland said Roy Wallace, with River City Studios in Grand Rapids, recorded, mixed, and mastered the album. Langeland confirmed he “lived a lot of those songs”, and the authenticity comes across when you listen.
Nathan Vredeveld(drums), Kyle Gifford (guitar), and John Johnson (bass) join those strong vocals by Tobin and Langeland’s guitar to make up a sound the band self-describes as “tapping into sounds from Muscle Shoals to Motown.” All these musicians are talented, producing a seamless work in each song where not one lick is missed.
The new Paradise Outlaw album Shadows serves up songs about seeking love, redemption, and order in the chaos of the human spirit. This album demonstrates the band’s maturity and also commitment to doing something they love. After a successful CD release on July 18 at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, the band will continue to perform regionally, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if one day they did indeed take the stage at The Ryman.
I can attest Paradise Outlaw is the band you tell to “turn it up” when you’re out for a good time on a rollicking weekend night.
Keep up with Paradise Outlaw’s doings on their Facebook page. You can purchase their music at CD Baby, or stream it on Spotify. It’s also available on iTunes. If you want a hard copy personally signed by the band, try posting a request on Facebook, or check out one of their shows where they’ll have it for sale.
I spend hours listening to a lot of music to keep this website running. I don’t write about most of the music people send me, in part because of the sheer numbers.
When I hear music like the album Shadows, all those hours are worth it.
(Kay B. Day/Aug. 6, 2019)