Poppy roots-rocker Alan Grant and his top-notch band will celebrate the release of his latest LP, “A Reason to Smile,” on Oct. 1 at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club with producer Anthony Krizan on guitar and singer-songwriter Roger Gardella as the opening act.
If you like some Beatles with your Stones, a bit of Billy Joel with your Springsteen, and a little Bryan Adams with your Mellencamp, then you’ll dig Bridgewater-based singer-songwriter Alan Grant’s poppy take on roots rock. Richly produced by and featuring the stunning guitar work of Anthony Krizan (Spin Doctors, Lenny Kravitz, Noel Redding), Grant’s latest LP, A Reason to Smile, lives up to its title with some tasty songwriting and playing.
A couple of the 10 tunes will be difficult to dislodge from your cranium’s internal radio, especially the melodic, meaningful title track. A few others will stick to your soul, such as the gospel-flavored “Came from New Orleans.” Both tunes concern how a parent’s love remains wrapped around a child like a warm blanket long after the edges fray.
Bolstered by the down ‘n’ dirty slide guitar of Krizan and lilting accordion of keyboardist Billy Siegel (Whirling Dervishes, Everlounge, Splintered Sunlight), the swampy soul of “New Orleans” is particularly delightful. Other highlights include the country-gospel romp “On Down the Line” and the Beatlesque “Don’t Let It Bring You Down.”
With a son living in Austin whom he often visits, Grant, via Krizan, also gives a nod to the Vaughan brothers. On the horn-textured shuffle “Not Your Man,” Krizan sounds like Stevie Ray, while “Next Best Greatest Thing,” which recently was included in a television pilot, somewhat recalls the rough-and-tumble style of Jimmie and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
A Reason to Smile is Grant’s full-length studio debut following two solo singles and a studio EP and live LP with his former band, Primitive Souls. His fantastic new band includes bassist Muddy Shews (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes) and backing vocalist Maria Adubato (Bell Bottom Blues Band). They will join Grant with Krizan and Siegel, as well as live drummer Russ McAdoo (Alpha Zero Three), at a release party on Oct. 1 at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club in Asbury Park. However, McAdoo doesn’t appear on “A Reason to Smile.” The skins were taped in Nashville by session veteran Chad Cromwell (Neil Young, Mark Knopfler, Joe Walsh), whose work Krizan weaved at his Sonic Boom Studios in Raritan Borough.
The resulting tapestry of A Reason to Smile delves into life’s many pains and few celebrations in a relatable way. Barring sappy lyrics on the love song “It’s About You” and the gushing “Brand New Hall of Fame” and “The Good Man,” the well-crafted collection features adult music made by and for adults. Whatever remains of adult contemporary radio should take note.
Bob Makin is the reporter for MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor and still a contributor to The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at email@example.com. Like Makin Waves at facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.