On April 21, the band’s long-awaited 13th studio album was released, just in time for yesterday’s National Record Store Day. Never mind it’s a CD, not a vinyl 33, play along for a minute and imagine that the first music you ever hear by The BoDeans is “Thirteen” (F&A Records). Despite the simplicity of the title and the understated power of the band’s fans who fill concert venues, buy or download the music and claim some songs as “part of the soundtrack of their lives,” you're sure to appreciate this latest offering from the pen of Neumann, who calls Wisconsin home. Understated doesn't begin to describe the album art. It comes in a simple grayscale cover with the number “13” in the shadows and the band’s name in maroon.
Typical BoDeans—no frills, no hype, just straight-ahead music with honest lyrics, practical rhythms and melodies that sound so naturally solid that you’ll swear you’ve heard these songs before, even when you haven’t. It’s easy to grow into their groove, particularly on “EvryBdy Wants” (sic) and “I Get Low,” because they’re easily my favorites of the album. I won’t confess to the number of times I hit “repeat” on the car as I was driving home from getting the CD.
After hundreds of thousands of touring miles, hours logged traveling in uncomfortable buses down scenic and desolate roads alike, “Thirteen” is the BoDeans’ best work to date. When Kurt Neumann wrote the songs, he ultimately crafted a biographical portrait, personally, and about the band.”
Speaking of the band, it's composed of Kurt Neumann, Sam Hawksley, Kenny Aronoff, David Sierra, Stefano Intelisano, Bukka Allen, Eric Holden, Zak Sparks, David Duffy, and Eamon McLoughlin, as the latest lineup, courtesy of their Facebook page. Leaving your hometown, whether Wisconsin city or urban mega-metroplex, means you’re taking big risks. Seeking fame also means gambling everything you’ve built in the past to go for your dreams. Ultimately when you achieve major accolades, industry respect, and you’ve garnered the right to work with all the “big names” in music, you’ve arrived.
From the heartfelt sincerity of “My Hometown,” “Here Somehow,” “Feels Like Home,” and “Headed Home,” you’re convinced you know what is on Neumann’s mind. Another standout track is “Sway,” an instrumental that just commands focus and listening over and over. “Lucky Man” is basically how Neumann feels, no doubt, as he reviews the band’s path over the past three decades.
Check out "My Hometown" on YouTube:
The music of The BoDeans is found incorporated into many media homes, and you may well recognize some of the songs on “Thirteen” if you’re a fan of the Netflix show, “The Ranch.” The band made an appearance on the original scripted show that stars favorites Sam Elliott, Danny Masterson, Debra Winger, and Ashton Kutcher, who is constantly on the cutting edge of all things social media.
Neumann has said of “My Hometown””: “This song is about home–small towns–and coming back to them, the place where you were raised, and the place and the people that made you who you are today.”
The BoDeans kick off their 2017 Spring tour in Maryland and travel south, north, and back to the Midwest in the space of four weeks. Catch them in concert here:
4/30 Annapolis, MD Rams Head on Stage
5/2 Atlanta, GA City Winery
5/3 Charlotte, NC Neighborhood Theatre
5/4 Richmond, VA The Tin Pan
5/5 Alexandria, VA Birchmere
5/6 Stroudsburg, PA Sherman Theater
5/7 New Hope, PA New Hope Winery
5/11 New York, NY City Winery
5/26 Chicago, IL City Winery
5/27 Waupaca, WI Indian Crossing Casino