Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review: Escaping Pavement - UpRooted

Detroit, Michigan’s Escaping Pavement have been on a musical journey for the past ten years and, with their latest album, UpRooted, they’re finally coming home.

Formed by teenage guitarists and dreamers, Emily Burns and Aaron Markovitz, when the two met at an open mic night at a blues club and have been kindred musical souls ever since. Schooling at the Los Angeles Music Academy College of Music helped the duo to fine tune their skills while exposing them to genres like “rock, pop, jazz, reggae, blues, and funk,” trying “various band permutations within these stylistic guises.”
The songs of UpRooted were birthed on a unique journey of its own as the band took to the high seas for inspiration and cash to record their debut.

“At that point we got the crazy idea to go play music on a cruise ship in order to gather some money to record our debut album. So, we disappeared to sea for a year, playing every song you could think of on a cruise ship,” Aaron explains. “At the time of our return we started writing the songs for UpRooted.”
And with the addition of bandmates Niall Sullivan on bass and background vocals and Evan Profant delivering drums and background vocals the stage was set for Escaping Pavement to shine.

UpRooted is a nine-song collection of rich, Americana-flavored offerings, elements of country, folk, and rock showing up at various junctures that draws recollections of Emmylou Harris, The Band, and a smattering of others while managing to still be original and definitively Escaping Pavement. “Burn This Bridge” gets things off to a fine start, bluesy electric guitar setting the groove for Burns’ solid vocals, just a hint of twang lending the track swagger while “Daydream’s Haze” employs a more subdued approach, Burns and Markovitz trading vocals over a mid-tempo shuffle, organ fills giving the song additional lift.
Markovitz steps to the forefront on “Here Again,” his vocal rich, resonant, and pleasantly gritty, and steals the show, crooning his way over the plucky arrangement before seguing into the bluesy soul of “Smoke Filled Existence,” a smooth groove setting the tone while soaring background vocals provide killer support. Burns steps back into the spotlight on the modern country rocker, “Part of Goodbye,” lending attitude to the lyric while charged guitars lead the way.

“On the Wind” finds the quartet shifting gears, slowing the tempo a bit as bright guitars, banjo fills, and percussion carry the track alongside an almost chorus of vocals that really works as “Drive Me to Sadness” carries things along with buoyant organ jams and more kicking drums that keep the toe tapping while the lyric searches for happiness. A sprightly mandolin fuels “Winter Homecoming,” Burns and Markovitz trading vocal duties again, while more blues elements, colored with touches of gospel and soul, bring life to album closer, “4th of July.” The great flourishes of electric guitar and Profant’s inspired percussion set the table for Burns’ finest vocal delivery yet as she shows her incredible range, shooting for the stars and hitting a home run on one of the best tracks to be found here.
Detroit, Michigan has a band to be proud of in Escaping Pavement. On UpRooted, they show that they’ve got the chops to hang with the big boys, combining gifted vocals together with strong musical arrangements and songwriting to create a warm atmosphere of Americana-inspired music. It’s honest and creative and speaks to the heart. And who could ask for more than that?

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