Loose Change Trio – Show and CD Review

If some of you recall, I did a show review for “David Ward Loose Change Trio” a while ago when they played at the Backstage Lounge. From what I remember, they were all really talented musicians and genuinely good people. During our first encounter, I had the opportunity to meet and have a chat with David Ward, guitar and vocals, and Greg Bevis, percussion extraordinaire. We talked about each of their respective background in music, with David coming from the theatre program at The University of Victoria, and with Greg coming from the L.A. Music Academy, as well as Capilano College. At the time, I only heard the material they had on their myspace page, which I was thoroughly impressed with, but I wasn’t ready for their live performance. They blew me away with their strong vocals and overall passion for what they were doing and they seemed at ease on stage, which portrayed them as seasoned musicians. Since our last meeting, David Ward has had an amazing, life changing adventure that took him all the way to Africa, in which you can read about in his Blog. His passion for music drew him away from Vancouver and to a whole new Continent, but once he got back to Canada, the same passion for creativity remained. One thing that did change is their band name. Although it’s not drastic, they are no longer using David’s name at the front, and are now simply called “Loose Change Trio.” But this change doesn’t affect the band in anyway, as they still make stunning and breathtaking music.

So when David got in contact with me regarding their new CD, I had no hesitation in accepting this review request. They had put up some new material on their new myspace page, and from what I heard it really showed an evolution to their sound. It seemed more mature, but of course I couldn’t tell without actually listening to the whole album. From my conversation with David, there was some mishap with the production of the disc, but the problems eventually were solved and the new CD was ready to be distributed. I was lucky enough to watch them perform before I had a chance to listen to the new album, so every new song they played was fresh and a great surprise.

Their CD Release Party, also at the Backstage Lounge, was packed from front to back and I was very pleased to see that they were getting the recognition they deserve. For this event, “Loose Change Trio” was not really a trio, but rather a full 7-piece band, which included a trumpet player, keyboardist, and two backup vocalists. This was an amazing show, filled with great theatrical performances as well as soft ballads. They exuded the passion and drive that artists need to succeed, something which is lacking in the music industry these days. David’s vocal performance was reminiscent of artists like Jeff Buckley and Tom Waits, but his range was what impressed me the most. His pitch was perfect and the melody to each song was astonishing. The interaction with the crowd was phenomenal and there was a real sense that a connection was made between the audience and the band. There were many highlights to the night, too many to name off, but when LCT played their song “Dead Ringer” it was a full on theatrical performance. Before this song, David gave a brief introduction to what influenced him to write it, stating that in the past, many people were buried alive, and when they would wake from their death-like slumber, they would have a string tied to one of their fingers, which was attached to a bell up on the surface. Whenever that bell rang, the graveyard worker would have to dig up the grave. At the start of the song David turned away from the crowd, and slowly returned with a top hat and a rough voice, imitating the graveyard worker, which reminded me a lot of Tom Waits. It was a delight to watch and they ended the night with another remarkable performance. Now when David was on his trip to Africa, he stumbled upon a little place called “Jesus Hair Salon” which than became the inspiration for this new song with the same name. They got everyone in the room clapping and cheering by the end, and there was no doubt they left a deep impression on each and everyone in the room. Their genuine desire to make great music was left on that stage when they finished up their set.

About a week after their show, I met up with David and had another chat with him. Our conversation ranged from his trip to Africa and the new experiences he’s had, to what was going on with the band in the upcoming months and possibly heading overseas for a few shows. At the end of our meeting, he was kind enough to drop off their new CD, “Unstruck Note,” for me to take a listen. I immediately popped it into my laptop and uploaded it into my iPod and from that day on, I have yet to put it down. I have listened to it at least once a day, and every time it’s a new experience for me. The layers each song has is astounding, ranging from instrumental arrangements to vocal performances. I am amazed how LCT has yet to break it out of Vancouver, but hopefully they will be recognized in a wider scope for the music they have created. Their music has surely evolved from when I first listened to them, and has fused soul with their jazz and theatrical influences.

LCT’s new album, “Unstruck Note,” starts off with a very danceable song titled “The Way It Is,” which is followed by another upbeat track “Head Full of Gasoline,” which effectively displays David’s amazing vocal range. “Cast of Bronze” seems like it comes straight out of the blues musical era, while “Headed Downtown,” a very nice interlude, and “Monkeys On The Chain Gang” are very theatrical tracks. “In My Baby’s Arms” is a nice soft ballad, where David shows off his vocals by hitting the falsetto with ease. The album picks up again with a song titled “Enough Said,” which brings back the danceable rock, accompanied by the trumpets and female backup vocals. My favourite song on the new album, which was actually a very hard choice, is the eighth track titled “Emanuel.” With heart felt lyrics and an engaging melody, this song is filled with an emotional aspect that will draw anyone in. “Downtown” is another soft interlude, with a violin accompaniment, which leads directly to what I like to call the banjo track “Bone Glow.” This is followed by “Bob,” a spoken word track about a man who wanted to seize the day, something everyone should keep in mind. “Not A Word Of A Lie” is the theatrical break that sets up to the aforementioned “Dead Ringers,” the graveyard track. The next track called “Music Maker,” in my opinion, is musically arranged to perfection and the album ends flawlessly with the track titled “Lost By The Sea.” The album also has a humorous hidden track, where David and Greg have a dramatic conversation about change and dirty underpants. I have yet to put down this album, and I don’t see myself doing so anytime soon. This disc is very diverse, as you can tell from my descriptions of each track, and can’t be put into any specific genre, but overall, it is very well produced and the creativity that went into this record renders me speechless.

This is a must buy CD and a must see band. If you only want to support one local band, I highly recommend “Loose Change Trio.” If you don’t believe me when I praise their musical talent, you can sample their material on their Myspace Page as well as visit them on their website for more information.