Last updated on February 17th, 2023 at 05:43 pm
Turn Turn Turn celebrated their second release New Rays from an Old Sun last night inside a sold out Dakota. Although this is their second album, it’s the first that they were able to celebrate due to the unspeakable 2020. Savannah Smith, Adam Levy, and Barb Brynstad haven’t lost a step in their harmonious vocals and bustling collage of sounds that makeup the group.
The band produced a vibrant evening of new music, old feelings, and a throwback nostalgic journey through Laurel Canyon intersecting with 70’s Nashville. Now 3 years removed from the breakout release Can’t Go Back, Turn Turn Turn is ready to expand and indulge in the characteristics that broke them onto the scene.
Kicking off the evening was Lamar opening with “Home To My Baby”, a song about something so common for most of us, while being an entirely different experience for others. “Flowers” sets a landscape of being shot with his mother lighting candles and dropping flowers on the boulevard. The expert use of darker undertones from the lyrics that contrast with a happier sounding song sets Lamar apart from so many others.
His songs are twinged with fear, justified paranoia, and even loss, but all dressed up and easily able to be absorbed. Joined by guitarist Steve Bosmans, Lamar has a Paul Simon-ish voice that soothes while inferring there’s so much more behind the window. He’s a fresh face and force that will be delightful to follow in 2023.
By the time Turn Turn Turn jumped into their newest single “Dopamine Blues”, it was apparent the 7-piece group had evolved into a thicker mix of textures and sounds. The steel slide, banjo, and keys all combined for a layered collaboration of their psychedelic flair and rough edged swagger.
Keeping the throwback formula intact, so many of their new songs trigger links back to the past. The title track “New Rays from an Old Sun” hearkens back to the Beatles sitar-intoxicated vibe. Savannah’s vocal leads the song through a message of transformation in a world in disarray. “Stranger in a Strange Land” lures me back to a Smokey Robinson & the Miracles era with a sparked groove and cohesive wall of vocals.
Mixed into the evening were gems from the first album. “Fourteen” delivered a warming presence over the crowd, with “Delaware Water Gap” bringing chuckles to everyone’s trunk revealing lyrics. “Ghosted” felt the closest bridge between the albums with the jammy rock groove.
Injected into the set were advantageous covers. Quillan Roe (Roe Family Singers) stepped up for “Ooh Las Vegas” (Gram Parsons), a bluegrass romp that lit a fire in the crowd. “The Last Thing on My Mind” (Dolly Parton/Porter Wagoner) was another dose of an expert cover that fit into the set. While “Say You Love Me” (Fleetwood Mac) capped the evening during the encore.
Highlights presented themselves throughout the evening. Adam Levy ripped into a guitar solo during “My Eyelids Weigh Mountains” that reminded us all of his talents as a guitarist. “If You’re Gonna Leave Me” pleads and begs for staying together with a crisp sheen of harmonies.
The beauty of Turn Turn Turn is the ability to lean into a variety of sounds by switching who sings lead and what instrument takes center stage. This trifecta gives the band a versatile option for delivery of their songs each performance.
“Hymn of the Haters” was another bomb of groovy deliverance into the Dakota. “Towards the Light” felt like the climax of the evening with such a tight performance that captures the essence of the band with Adam’s swagger, Barb’s unyielding bass, Savannah’s graceful harmonies, and the twang of pedal steel and drums.
Turn Turn Turn kicked off 2023 with another original album of generational skipping songs that both salute the past while modernizing the formula. An ambitious collection of 11 new songs dig deeper into the skills of the trio, while showcasing the strengthened confidence of the group. Turn Turn Turn have set themselves up for a rewarding and fruitful year with this release.