Review by Shannon Shumaker
The great thing about James and the Drifters’ All That Gold is that it doesn’t get old. It’s easy to play the entire album through and start it all over again, just because you can’t get enough of it, and that’s just what you want from an album like this.
The first thing that stands out about James and the Drifters is the pretty, mystical quality of their sound on the first track on the album, “Lucille The Wall.” The guitar work on “Lucille the Wall” is gorgeous and sweeping, making it a good opening song, enough to really showcase what they’re all about before throwing you into the second track, “One Trick Pony,” which has a distinctly more upbeat and different sound and gorgeous vocals. The vocals on “One Trick Pony” are actually the strongest aspect of the song - the harmonies are absolutely beautiful and the soft, pretty guitar work compliments them nicely. In fact, all throughout All That Gold, every instrument seems to compliment the others well, from the vocals, to the guitar, from the rhythm section to the melodic piano - All That Gold is a very well-balanced record.
Two songs on All That Gold really stood out to me as personal favorites, and for two completely different reasons, making James and the Drifters all that more interesting. One of the strongest songs on the record is easily the third track, “Foxtrot.” The song is upbeat, catchy and above everything else, unique. The vocal work on “Foxtrot” is especially strong and more gritty than any of the other tracks on All That Gold, setting it apart from the others, while the gorgeous harmonies and guitar work tie it in with the rest of the record amazingly. Throughout the track, they manage to take you on a journey, which is what I look for in a great song. (Also, the guitar tone on this track is amazing, definitely my favorite on the entire album.)
Another amazingly strong song on All That Gold comes with the slower, stripped down track, “Morning Light.” Before the vocals even came in on this song, I knew it would be one of my favorites on the record. The soft acoustic guitar is goosebump-inducing and the sheer emotion in the vocals on this track is incredible. It’s amazing that James and the Drifters can manage to put two songs that are on complete opposite ends of the musical spectrum from each other only one track away from one another and pull it off rather flawlessly.
The thing with many other albums similar to All That Gold is that a lot of the songs seem to sound the same; they get boring, stay at one level, and blend together. The great thing about this album, however, is that it doesn’t do that. While James and the Drifters definitely have a very solid and distinct sound (their songs don’t all sound like they were written by different artists) each song sounds different from the other, each strong on its own or with the album as a whole. All That Gold is a remarkable album, whether you’re listening to it while relaxing at home after a long day or jamming it on a long drive down the highway.
Listen to "Morning Light" or "Foxtrot"