Before the Flood describes itself as an americana outfit, and sometimes that fits. But most americana acts find their touchstones in the 70s, and Before the Flood definitely puts its roots in the 80s.

Before the Flood
Hole in the Sky
From the new wavy opener ("TTC") to the Born in the USA Springsteen overtones of "03:00" and on down the line, these songs put me solidly in high school. Even more "traditional" (a word that has little to do with this sound, really) songs like "I Can't Wait for You" remind me more of Marshall Crenshaw than Gram Parsons.

These are all good things. As much as I love the louche decadence of 70s country-rock (I don't even mind the Eagles, as long as I only hear them once or twice a year), it's a lot of fun to hear this kind of update. Americana lends itself well to popcraft, and country music has never been above throwing some keyboards into the mix. There are ample precedents for this sort of approach, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone go quite so whole hog.

Best of all, this album has 14 songs that span a massive stretch of music. In the end, the most distinctive thing about BTF's sound are the fine arrangements. These songs work. There is little wasted motion (another way this is more 80s than 70s) and a plethora of lovely hooks. Meditative or fully rocking out, Before the Flood knows how to put together a song.

This sucker rambles, and that's probably the best reason to call these folks "americana." It's a good, long ramble, too. A welcome journey for any sort of weather.

Jon Worley

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