Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review - "The Right Time" - Brian Wilson (Featuring Al Jardine & David Marks)

“The Right Time” is the first non-single single to be officially issued from Brian’s “No Pier Pressure” album. That is, it is the first track to be available for purchase. There are few physical single releases these days (and sadly at this stage indie vinyl singles seem more common than CD singles). As it is, it doesn’t appear that “The Right Time” is even a “download” single. It’s not flagged as a “single” on iTunes as some other “singles” are.

In any event, you can buy the thing as a download on iTunes and Amazon, and, if you “pre-order” the album digitally, it allows immediate access to the track. Being the schlub I am, I bought this track as a digital download even though I’ll be buying it again as a physical CD release.

“The Right Time” is billed as “Featuring Al Jardine and David Marks.” The former is much more prevalent and discernable. In fact, the track surprisingly features Al singing most of the lead vocal, with Brian only popping in occasion on answering bits on the choruses. For all intents and purposes, this is a new Brian-penned Al Jardine track.

The song is a laid-back, mid-tempo pop track. It opens with a slightly weird organ riff, sounding for a few seconds like the opening of a Santana song or something. It then immediately moves into a slightly jazzy, light sound that for better and worse is a bit evocative of 70s easy listening. Al’s voice sounds great on the track. An epic “is it autotune?” debate/war broke out online, with no clear answer. Whatever the answer, the effect on the vocal is far less prevalent or annoying as compared to something like “From There to Back Again.” Al may just be double tracked with some additional effects. Or slightly autotuned. If we can’t tell for sure, then it must not be too bad.

Another item less up for debate is that, yes, the chorus on this song pretty much lifts the chords from the chorus of 1998’s “Lay Down Burden” off Brian’s “Imagination” album. The melody over those chords is similar too. This will only be distracting to those familiar with the older Brian track. That Al is singing “The Right Time” instead of Brian helps in terms of avoiding the track sounding too similar. The track has the expected layered, lush harmonies. It sounds like Matt Jardine doing the falsetto bits, which is quite refreshing, especially the soaring falsetto bits during the vocal breakdown in the middle section. Dave’s guitar licks sound fine; they fit in with the sort of 70s jazzy easy listening vibe of the song. As with his work on “That’s Why God Made the Radio”, the guitar work is impeccable and also probably indiscernible as Dave to all but those who are specially attuned to his playing style.

Ultimately, the track is enjoyable but not mind-blowing. Which is okay. I think the quality and tone of Al’s voice turns a rather middle-of-the-road song into something more interesting.
It’s also worth noting that a slightly more organic, less processed sound can be heard on the live take of the song from the PBS “Soundstage” special. That clip is available online on YouTube.

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