Like many of his talented peers operating under Americana's broad umbrella, John Calvin Abney doesn't limit himself to writing twangy, country-influenced songs, as heard on the far-reaching odyssey through his record collection titled Safe Passage. The album officially arrives tomorrow (Sept. 27) on Black Mesa Records, and it's streaming a day early via Wide Open Country.
Safe Passage isn't a country-free zone by any means, considering that the whimsically western "Kind Days" and the steel guitar-laden trip down memory lane "Backwards Spring" meet all your traditionalist needs. Beyond those standout tracks, there's such sharp left turns as garage-pop nugget "Days of Disconnect" gorgeous piano tune "Soft Rain After All" and the beautiful throwback pop feel of "Maybe Happy."
Through each musical twist and turn, the album maintains a message of positivity.
"Safe Passage is a collection of songs sewn together with familiar musical motifs, nostalgic reminders of tunes within tunes and a thread of hope," Abney tells Wide Open Country. "I wrote most of this album with an optimistic message in mind, relating to internal forces and struggles, but in the end, the songs took on new meanings that were more global, more cosmic, more human. Played live to the tape like its predecessors, we wanted to capture the human element of performance again in all of its magic and little blemishes. If anybody can take a moment of comfort from any of this work, then I have succeeded wholly."
Each track proves the versatility of a sought-after guitarist who's appeared on 29 albums over the last six years. In that same span, he's toured with punk bands (Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires) and singer-songwriters (longtime collaborator John Moreland). Clearly, spending so much time in studios and living out of a tour van hasn't quenched Abney's positive mental attitude.