Review: Tin Cup Serenade – Tragic Songs Of Hope

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-Greg’s Take-

It was raining outside; showing no signs of slowing down. I was about to close up for the day and there it was; standing at my door, soaked, asking for help. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I knew I was its last hope.

Of all the albums, in all the world, this one had to walk in.

Ok, all vintage detective-style intros aside, Tin Cup Serenade is a spin on classic sound that shouldn’t be missed. I could put the needle down on Tragic Songs Of Hope, step in front of the fire, swirl my whisky, light my cigar and stare contemplatively into the flames for hours.

With roots in Swing mixing among a folly of swank hole-in-the-wall jazz club swagger, the Bay Area’s Tin Cup Serenade confidently open a new chapter in Americana.

The dance floor of an album is built by Larry Leight (Trombone), Safa Shokrai (Bass), Eric Garland (Percussion), Pete Cornell (Sax) and crooner Rolf Wilkinson’s witty intelligence and stirred by addicting-to-the-bone compositions.

On first pass you’ll be drawn to the full, thumping swagger of the upright bass and textured snares, but focusing on the music, you’ll quickly see that these are not your grandparent’s bandstand tunes.

Their second album, Tragic Songs Of Hope, is as entertaining as it is rhythmic. From the complexity of “Limbo Jazz” to the day-in-the-park romance of “Sunny Oakland Day,” they prove the mastery of their sound. “Empty Pocket Waltz” feels like a long lost George Harrison track, yet fits nicely into Tin Cup’s character; it’s fun and whimsical as it sheds light on the beauty of simple love. “Money Is King” thrives in a Cuban flavor as it sings out a politically charge cynicism that would make Bill Maher look twice. Absolutely lovely. But if you don’t pay attention, you’ll miss it. Proving once again we’re knee deep in an intellectually beautiful vision. Produced with an obvious attention to their presence, Tragic Songs Of Hope portrays a modern mentality implanted in a beautifully full, ageless sound.

Wilkinson’s classic vocals are reminiscent of the smoky bars where the social elite met to stare at the flapper dresses and fedora swaying masses. Cornell makes the sax sexy again. Leight draws upon the era when horns were the cat’s pajamas. Garland’s flavor on percussion is deliciously rich with style. Shokrai’s ever-present upright lingers on dangerous. Together Tin Cup Serenade has the ability to be cool on the hottest days and smokin’ on those chilly nights.

Tin Cup Serenade

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