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Review: Billy Harvey Blends Legacy and Modern Sounds With His Latest Album, ‘Elephants In The Room’

By DONNA BALANCIA

Billy Harvey is learning how to grow up.  And that’s reflected in his new album, Elephants In The Room, in which he blends the sounds of his youth with the sounds that are popular today.  The result is a collection that appeals to a broad range of music lovers.

“With this record it’s hard for me to not have a lot of myself in each song and I think most people write that way,” Harvey said. “Even if you’re writing about someone else it’s filtered through you.”

And it’s clear there are a lot of people and adventures from his past included in Elephants In The Room. Harvey is a veteran songwriter and his guitar work is sought out by a range of musicians. At the moment, he’s working with the band The Reluctant Apostles, which is on the verge of releasing their self-titled debut album.

Billy Harvey mixing vintage with modern in Elephants In The Room - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Billy Harvey mixing vintage with modern in Elephants In The Room – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Elephants In The Room is an upbeat and personal album. It shows an emotional and musical diversity that goes from slow and steady to danceable and up-tempo.  Our personal favorite is the No. 1 track on the album, called “Night Light,” which has a revolutionary march-style beat that starts off simply and evolves into a building crescendo and credo.  It’s a song of revelation and joy. Hey, not everything we learn can be good news but sometimes it’s better we find out sooner rather than later.

And that’s something Billy knows.  He’s traveled around a lot and he’s made a lot of long-term — and short-term — pals along the way.

“This album is personal but from a view from across the dance floor,” he said. “I want the songs to be more about the listener than me. Consequently the record is more upbeat and danceable, groovier than records in the past.”

Elephants In The Room will be released Feb. 24.

Harvey has paid his dues. He’s lived in New York and L.A. and recently relocated to Nashville, the home of many music industry heavyweights.

“Nashville makes total sense,” Harvey said. “When we mention Nashville it seems like it’s a gold rush. For my skill set, I know how to write songs and I can do co-writes and I plan on doing co-writes with people and playing around town.”

Harvey said he writes music like he lives his life.

“I have to listen to my inner guide,” he said. “Like when the guide told me to move back to LA from Austin.  If I didn’t move to LA, I wouldn’t have my daughter. When I moved to LA, I met my friends.”

Harvey says musicians today have to think beyond record albums and performing to make money.

“The only way to earn money is to have a song in a movie or on TV or commercial,” he said. “Having a great recording with a great vocal recording is a plus.”

Overall, Elephants In The Room, is an interesting blend of new and vintage. Harvey’s voice is similar in style to Rufus Wainwright but also reining in the soulfulness of the late Rick Danko.  And the music, complete with fuzzy guitar and electric effects, sounds like what it would be like to mix today’s Car Seat Headrest and their modern storytelling approach with that of legacy artist James Taylor.

Harvey’s “Emptiness is Everything” is almost a joyous celebration of more carefree days, in Harvey’s case, those days seem to be the 1980s. “Haunted Heart” slows the pace down to almost a blues style, and tells of survival and growing up.  But the song is not as haunting as “HWY 9,” a beautiful memory of a journey far away.  The upbeat pace returns with “When I Say Go,” which uses some pretty cool midi-type sounds set against a backdrop of traditional rock and Harvey’s earnest vocals. Harvey’s youthful voice sounds like a perpetual teenager; hopeful and reflective, and leaves us, like the singer, yearning for those days he so clearly enjoyed.

The record stacks up against Dear Danger, Harvey’s most autobiographical album.

Billy Harvey (R) with his band The Reluctant Apostles - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Billy Harvey (R) with his band The Reluctant Apostles – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Harvey’s production technique also echoes the themes of Elephants In The Room, mainly interweaving the old with the new and adapting to the resulting changes.  Harvey’s reluctant to part with some old school recording tools — he’s been putting his music on tape. It captures a certain sound he’s looking for.

“Mixing to tape is an inexpensive way to get what they like about the sound of tape onto the record,” Harvey said. “Tape mashes everything together and it gives that mysterious thing that records have.”

Harvey keeps moving. He keeps playing music, but those seem to be the only things about this talented musician that remain a constant.  And while it can be difficult to transition, maybe in some way, Harvey is coming to terms with introducing new lessons to the old routine.

“There are so many levels of chaos that make music interesting,” he said.  “And I’m always looking for a little bit of that.”

Elephants In The Room

Night Light
Be Kind Rewind
Dirty World
Frosted
El Centro
Emptiness is Everything
Well Wishes Back
Haunted Heart
HWY 9
When I Say Go
Grown Ups

‘Sons Of Anarchy’ Music Spins Off New Album: The Reluctant Apostles Record Nears its PledgeMusic Goal

Katey Sagal Band Holds Successful PledgeMusic Campaign

By DONNA BALANCIA

The tough Sons of Anarchy spinoff band, The Reluctant Apostles, has put together a heartwarming debut record that has reached 75 percent of its PledgeMusic goal.

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The Reluctant Apostles: Phil Shenale, Bob Thiele, Katey Sagal, Dave Faragher and Billy Harvey – Photo 2017 Donna Balancia

The Reluctant Apostles are Bob Thiele and with Davey Faragher on bass, Phil Shenale on keyboards, Billy Harvey on guitar, Michael Urbano on drums and Katey Sagal up front. The band is bringing audiences together all over Southern California.

The music can be described as Americana with an edge, as the band rips through some great classics and adds a modern twist. The guitar work, drums, keyboards and bass all work together, the harmonies are amazing and Katey’s voice is out of this world.

The Reluctant Apostles recently played sold out gigs at Don The Beachcomber and at their regular spot Molly Malone’s. See our continuous exclusive coverage of one of the best bands in LA here.

“We came all the way from Indiana to see them,” said Barbara Renfro who brought her whole family to a recent gig. “We love Katey and the band.”

Check out The Reluctant Apostles PLEDGEMUSIC campaign here.

 

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The Reluctant Apostles play a mix of famous as well as infamous covers and it’s done with style – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The talented musicians have a history of dozens of collaborations, hundreds of albums and thousands of concerts together.

The musicians trace their roots back to Sons of Anarchy band The Forest Rangers. They began recording covers and original songs for the hit series not fully realizing it was the start of something special.

Katey Sagal: Beautiful, talented and makes a fun frontwoman - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Katey Sagal: Beautiful, talented and makes a fun frontwoman – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The Reluctant Apostles Perform

The Reluctant Apostles have a good time performing. Their music is upbeat and fun and the covers they perform include “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” “The Candyman,” by The Grateful Dead, “My Love Is Getting Stronger,” and their new one, “Never Ending Love for You.”

With The Reluctant Apostles show you not only get great music, but a lot of conversation that runs the gamut with a lot of joking around thrown in. It’s a good time with talented musicians having fun.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com YouTube Channel for more of The Reluctant Apostles.

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The Reluctant Apostles play a gig at Molly Malone’s on Fairfax – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Talent Times Ten

It’s an impressive group. Faragher plays with Elvis Costello and Richard Thompson; Shenale works with Tori Amos and Jane’s Addiction; Harvey works with Patty Griffin and Charlie Mars, Michael Urbano has graced the stages abroad and in the U.S. with Cracker and Smash Mouth, and Thiele has worked with Bonnie Raitt and Mavis and Pop Staples. Katey has been singing all her life, with a range of musicians ranging from family members to superstars and she has built an incredible acting career.

Dave Way is the producer of The Reluctant Apostles debut album.

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