Wisdom tinged with hope does not come through thoughtfully-written lyrics by accident.
Nor is pop Americana that is catchy, rhythmic and yet somehow still contemplative particularly common.
To this deliberately uncommon place the EP “Never Grow Old,” released in January, beckons with wise words, memorable melodies, and a five-piece ensemble sound that makes listeners rock in their seats.
The Rivergods, if you don’t know them, are the ever-so-personable Dan Spano on keyboards; Mike Palazzolo on bass; Ben Parent, guitars/vocals/harmonica; Nancy Parent, guitar/pedal steel/vocals; and Trevor Chandonnait on drums.
Just when you want to pin cynicism on the losses recorded in the imagery-rich song, “When Times Were Good,” or on the “betrayal” in the raucous tune “The Curse,” you have to step back and acknowledge a lack of regret or or a a twinge of desire. Just when you think you understand from the title track that it won’t “be alright” or in “Rush Hour” that “what was lost along the way/ [was] Better off gone for good,” songwriter Ben Parent brings us full circle. His wish for us “climbing high,” to “never come down,” or to, when times aren’t so good, “learn to get along,” give his message a buoyancy and optimism that cannot be dragged down by circumstance.
Beguiling but hard-bitten, and deceptively easy to digest, Parent’s lyrics pack that hard-to-find combination of power and poeticism. Nancy Parent’s harmonies, as always, elevate the vocals and infuse them with a lightness that is just the right counterpoint to Ben’s gravelly voice.
Instrumentally, the band is as tight as ever.
If I had to pick one tune for my time capsule, it would be “Rush Hour.” From the lilting instrumental opening to the soft harmonies and subtle ironies, it’s a keeper.
Pick up your copy of “Never Grow Old” here. Treat yourself to a timely and yet timeless arrangement of music and words that, like their award-winning single, “Budda On the Road,” will never grow old.