Ask anyone who’s caught them live and you’ll hear the same thing: It’s simply impossible to see Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones perform and not have a great time. A smile on the lips, a swivel in the hips, and an earful of snappy tunes are the inevitable takeaways from any Ark-Tones appearance. The band’s singular blend of rock ‘n’ roll, country, blues, surf, Western swing, rockabilly, folk, pop, and jazzy rhythm & blues gets feet a-moving and hands a-clapping no matter the audience. By the end of the night, if they weren’t already, those lucky concertgoers are rabid fans.
From behind her trademark red cat-eye frames, Lara, winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Female Rockabilly Artist, fills any hall that she and the Ark-Tones play. Her neon-bright, bigger-than-life persona is matched only by the outsized power of her towering voice, an instrument that moves effortlessly between big-stage belting and sexy, sultry crooning. Alongside Lara, the ace Ark-Tones know innately how to complement the leader and singer-songwriter’s dynamic vocal presence, both before an audience and in the studio: Double bassist Matt “The Knife” Goldpaugh, lead guitarist Eddie Rion, and drummer Jeremy Boniello keep the train rocketing down the rails, making moody detours whenever the songs call for them. Want an illustration of an act that knows its craft? Here to Tell the Tale, the band’s red-hot third album due out June 25th via Sower Records and Crazy Love Records, is diamond-hard proof. In spades.
Although Lara and the group have been well known on the rockabilly scene for years, those who’ve followed their recordings know that the band’s stylistic approach is increasingly diverse. “Since our earlier albums [2014’s Luck Maker and 2017’s Love You to Life], we’ve grown a lot as musicians, and I feel like my songwriting has really matured along the way,” says Lara. “I believe that Here to Tell the Tale has our best songs so far. It’s more widely varied, in terms of the emotions, musical styles, and subject matter. We always try to have something for everybody.”
One listen to the all-originals Here to Tell the Tale shows just how true that is. After blasting out of the box with “Let’s Go,” a high-octane shot of the band’s steadfast sound, the 11-song disc spins further out with new gems like the lush, haunting “It’s a Crime.” The rousing “Some Advice” is a playful poke at the generation gap complete with hilarious voicemails from Lara’s mom, and the simmering sax of Hayden Cummings of the Kings of Nuthin’. (Another album guest is keyboardist Matt Jordan, sideman to Stray Cat Lee Rocker and Reverend Horton Heat.)
If there’s a theme to Here to Tell the Tale, it’s one of not holding back or being afraid of following your personal path. “It’s about getting out and living your life, creating new memories, for good or for bad, and having experiences that you just couldn’t have had otherwise,” explains Lara. “Having your own tale to tell.”
Here to Tell the Tale, indeed. After years of perfecting their art and paying their dues, Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones are still steaming along and, yes, they have quite a tale to tell, one that rock ’n’ roll lovers everywhere will be more than happy to hear.
Today Glide is excited to premiere the album’s raucous title track, an anthem of steadfast determination. The song came to Lara after a 2019 tour fall that shattered her leg but didn’t stop her. In fact, she kept right on playing shows while wearing a cast. As Lara playfully laments her misfortune, she also exudes her determination to keep on playing, because the show must go on! Her vocals are equal parts rowdy and sharp, backed by her well-oiled band laying down a real rockabilly stomper that makes the tune a lively stomper with a quick beat and plenty of feisty guitar licks.
Lara Hope describes the inspiration behind the song:
I think the first couple of sentences of this tune really sums up the theme of the album: “They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I am here to tell you that’s the truth. Cause when you go to sleep at night, if what you’re feeling just ain’t right, at least you’re gonna know just what to do!” Here To Tell The Tale is about having our own adventures/life experiences, making our own memories (for good or for bad) and allowing ourselves to grow as human beings as a result.
Photo credit: Franco Vogt