The Latebirds: Last Of The Good Ol’ Days

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You would think St. Louis and not Helsinki would be the backyard of The Latebirds, but alas they seem to nail a gorgeous, deliberate Americana style on the opening title track of Last Of The Good Ol’ Days could be mistaken for a Jeff Tweedy solo track and not a seasoned Finnish-cana outfit. The bombast at the close might not be to everyone’s liking, but it seems to gel nicely. Meanwhile the sweet roots pop of “Among The Survivors” shines with its tight rhythm section and barroom keyboards.

With guest appearances by Wilco’s Nels Cline, Minnie Driver and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench and Dave Rawlings among others, The Latebirds have a very credible batch of songs from start to finish. Although a few songs such as “Time To Live” and “No1” sound just a bit too polished, resulting in a loss of that spark, the group soars on the Dylan-ish “Summer Becomes Fall” if backed by Tench and company. And the gentle “Like Father Like Son” oozes folksy campfire fodder.

If there’s one true standout aside from “You Cynical You” it has to be “Fearless,” a haunting rocker revolving around Russian journalist Ana Politkovskaja who was murdered in 2006. The song hits its groove early and doesn’t come off too preachy or soapbox-ish. Another keeper is the barnstorming “Kickin’ Me” recalling an early, confident Tom Petty.
 
 brief reprise of the opener is bizarrely found near the homestretch but a five-song “Woodstock Sessions” bonus EP (with Kris Kristofferson, Levon Helm and David Rawlings appearing here) more than atones for the miscue with delicate covers of “The City Of New Orleans” and Townes Van Zandt’s “To Live Is To Fly.”
    Overall The Latebirds have a good ol’ album here.

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