Album Review - Gail and the Tricksters: Dare to Be Different
by Joe Wood
Nashville's Gail Lloyd leads her five-piece group of Tricksters in their new release Dare to Be Different on Wild Oat Records. Mixing a blend of blues, rockabilly, 50s rock 'n' roll, and surf guitar riffs, Dare To Be Different contains 12 tracks that spotlight Lloyd's and "harpist" Steve Haggard's writing, interspersed with a few cover songs.
The opening title/track "Dare To Be Different" is an original that promotes being yourself. It is reminiscent of Dave Edmonds' work and would definitely have played well on MTV in the early 1990s. This catchy tune has a great alt-rock melody with tasteful harmonica accents by Haggard.
"Wanna Go South", a cover written by rockabilly legend Frank "Andy" Starr follows as a swingin' soft rockabilly number and blends nicely into Lloyd's original "Runaround". This smooth Buddy Holly-esque love song is polished to near perfection by the guitar work of Trickster Walter Egan.
Dare to Be Different also features three live tracks, "Pink Slip", "Tom Cat Blues" and "Wine-Spo-Dee-O-Dee"—all recorded at Nashville's The 5 Spot. Of the three "Wine-Spo-Dee-O-Dee" is the better of the songs, due to its upbeat rhythm and backing vocals of Steve Haggard. "Twist My Heart", an original by Lloyd, is another catchy alt-rock/country ditty that features a Buddy Holly edge with surf guitar spread on top.
This disc easily shows that Gail Lloyd is a fine writer and musician, as are the rest of the Tricksters. And while the first half of this CD is great, the second half seems to be filled with songs that need more development. "Wet Sand" digresses into a semi-political rant, "Rockabilly Robots"—while trying to be fun—just doesn't work as of yet, and "Tricksters Are In Town" is more of a "who's who in the band" song which may be cute live, but on the CD is just a bit self serving.
Don't get me wrong—I do like Dare to Be Different and will play it more in the future because there are some real gems here. I'll just be skipping a few of the tracks to get to the good stuff.