Not what I would expect from the area of Kingston, New York (a very nice town), but Lara Hope and The Ark Tones dish up some kickin’ rockabilly on this, their second full-length album, Love You To Life. Born from a hybrid of Lara’s former rockabilly band The Champtones, and upright bassist Matt Goldpaugh’s international psychobilly act, The Arkhams (he’s Lara’s husband), The Ark-Tones hit the ground running in 2012 and haven’t slowed down since. Lara and Matt also perform as a duo (The Gold Hope Duo), and can even be found as the country/western entertainers at the one of longest running family resorts in New York, the Rocking Horse Ranch, performing under the name Lara and the Hope’Alongs.
This collection of eleven songs gets off in a classic, big, brassy fashion with the swingin’ “Fast, Cheap Or Well Done”, with its punchy riffs and chorus and one hell of a twang – this sounds like it just walked out of 1957 but sounds crisp and modern; the title track, “Love You To Life” has that nifty bossa-nova/Tex-Mex vibe and is tight and catchy (listen to that spot-on solo!) and “‘Til The Well Runs Dry” is another kicker (great call and response vocals) and a killer sax riff. “This Is What I’ve Got” is the head-turner – a slow, pure country ballad with a sweetly mournful fiddle and chiming pedal steel notes; “I’m The One” is the obvious “single” – a track that could have fit in between Fats Domino and Buddy Holly on radio playlists once upon a time and “Hotel Yorba” gallops along (a Johnny Cash tribute, perhaps?) – uptempo, country sweetened and again, delightfully twangy.
Call it what you want – a party album; you can twist and jive to it, etc. – it’s a musical good time. And while I’ve never been a great fan of rockabilly revival bands (being a lifelong Elvis and Everly Brothers fan, I’m a purist), this is a damned fine gathering of real, American rock & roll – the way it was meant to be played – with fun and passion.
Love You To Life is currently available