Back to Home is Deep Greens & Blues’ debut album. The band hails from Grand Rapids, MI, and have been together since 2010. Originating around a shared church band, their influences straddle country, rock, and more.
Making up Deep Greens & Blues are Travis Atkinson, Kelsey Gustafson and Jason Upton. All members of the band contribute vocals, with Travis and Jason on guitar and bass respectively. The rest of the accompaniment is provided by session musicians. All of the band are steeped in music, Kelsey studying music education at Hope College, in Holland, Michigan, and Jason has 15 years’ experience in a number of rock bands in the West Michigan area.
The album, one of contrasts, both musically and thematically, gets off to a bright, breezy start on the title track. With soulful harmonies reminiscent of both pop-countryers like Rascal Flatts and 60s/70s rock groups in the mould of The Mamas & The Papas, the song is a story of redemption, love and working together. A powerful and interesting song, this one will stay with you. Don’t Walk Away has a relaxing way to it, swinging and swaying away nicely. An neat change from the previous song, this one unfortunately doesn’t work as well. Although softer, the strengths in the songwriting are still evident, but is slightly let down in the delivery.
Strengths of Back To Home are definitely instrumentation and arrangements, but the quality does dip slightly by a seeming lack of identity – some of the songs (Goodbye To You, Make A Move) don’t overly stand out. Some of the harmonies are excellent (the Jason Mraz-esque Where You Go), but on Goodbye… especially, the delivery comes across as a bit half-hearted.
Songs like Hold You and Life After You show the contrast at the heart of Back To Home. The former’s emotional resonance comes from some soft, forgiving piano, with vocals which match the words very well. The latter, whilst more rhythmic and rocking, blends rock and country, but doesn’t always hit its spots. The album as a whole is a little hit and miss at times, although it does have good songs, stories and emotion, there is still something lacking. It feels as if in time, the band will grow into their sound, but it might take another album or two until this is fully realised.
Having said that, there are definite high spots, like the aforementioned Where You Go. This is a great song, with a slight John Mayer feel to it. The soft, slinky guitar works well with the harmonies, and the story is relayed with power and conviction.
In summary, Back To Home has plenty of potential. There are plenty of good ideas, but the collection is slightly let down by some weak singing and a lack of uniqueness at times.