As an instrumental group, the Amorphous Band (and it’s predecessor, Friday Night Haircuts) has been a NH highlight for years. Blending traditional jazz structure with rock, pop and jam improvisation, one never quite knew where they would go next. Now as a band complete with lead singer, Amorphous Band has metamorphosized into an act to completely sink into.
Chris O’Neill has been the strength of the group from the outset with his tremendous gift for guitar playing and his ear for creating catchy hooks almost virtually from the ether. Cindy Kaza, though, leads the band into its new incarnation. Her strong, smooth and often silky vocals are the perfect accompaniment to the music. I can barely imagine the two as separate entities anymore.
For example, “Foolish Pride,” has a wonderful jazzy underlying tone while being a type of R&B blend. From the resonance of the guitar to the soft keyboard harmony to the subtle and apt backbeat, this tune is tight, plugged-in and hard to ignore. Then Lapierre and Kaza share the vocals and the symbiosis is inevitable. Even the lyrical contents match the vibe and emotion of the melody.
Then there’s “Evil Things” with its’ funky hook and drum beat. There’s nothing here that will keep me from moving. Keith Foley’s bass line, as it well should, provides the metronome for the ass-shaking or foot tapping. Yet, the production is so good, it’d be easy to miss.
Having the seen the Amorphous Band a couple of times, I know how the musicians can easily improvise. They could spend an entire night not playing a single previously crafted song and still sound like a set list had been created prior to stage time. Now, there’s more to catch onto. With lyrics and song titles and a full fledged mastered and produced CD, I can go to a show and wonder if there will be a ten-minute keyboard-led jam to extend “D’Jango’s Mangos” or if “the Whipping Winds” is as rockin’ live as the guitar lick leads me to believe.
The title cut, an instrumental, could be my favorite. With a nod to Pat Metheny and Michael Hedges, O’Neill takes his guitar on a cool journey that is much like the similar ‘80s jazz guitar while evoking Santana-like riff work.