The Kings have a notion
I was not a stranger to the Grammy-winning band, Kings of Leon, but I definitely did not know their music well enough to attend their full-house gig at GM place August 15th. Truth be told, I only started listening to their new album, "Only By the Night" a few days ago.
Lately I've been more into the acoustic, tortured singer-songwriter stuff... But Only By the Night has got me craving for more of the heart-wrenching vocals of Caleb Followil, and the powerful percussion lines that drive each of their songs. The song "Notion", said to be written as a response to negative talk about the band, is my current favorite. Even without the song playing, I can still perfectly hear Caleb's voice singing the lines in my head, "I've got a notion to say what doesn't feel right". As staggering as the lead vocals are, however, the rest of the sound on the Kings’ album is almost a little too polished. The lyrics are deep and seemingly raw, but the package as a whole has a little bit of that too-good-to-be-true studio sheen to it. Not necessarily a bad thing, but music lovers who still treasure their cassette tape collection of live Grateful Dead recordings might not embrace this album the same way as their teenage kid, who’s been raised to think flawless mp3s (created by a studio mix of the best 10 out of 50 takes) are normal. Then again, the Kings sound nothing like the Dead.
As a singer and songwriter myself (who, strangely enough, has also had shoulder surgery as well), I was impressed when I read that Caleb had written most of the lyrics and melodies while on the pain meds he took during his shoulder surgery downtime. The pills didn't make ME a genius... Just useless.
So what’s my take, overall? The lyrics are deep and lingering, in a haunting and dark kind of way, and it's probably the blood relation that keeps the rest of the band so well-tuned in to each other. This album appears to be just the ticket the band needed to “Be Somebody”.