I can only imagine that the genesis of Mellow Down Easy, like most things, has something to do with ZZ Top. I think the lyric from everyone’s favorite bearded Texans (Walker Texas Ranger excluded, of course) goes something like, “Mellow down easy when you really wanna blow your top.”
On Cosmisutra, Mellow Down Easy falls victim to the best worst advice you could give preceding a few sly nonsense syllables. A-Haw Haw Haw Haw.
Mellow Down Easy seems to have at least two really strong personalities. I’m not sure who to credit with what (there weren’t any detailed credits in the liner notes) so I’ll go with a Seussism and call them Thing One and Thing Two.
Let me say first that these three guys are undeniably talented, and they deserve credit as dynamite players and accomplished songwriters. And talent plus strong vision would logically add up to a great record, right? If Mellow Down Easy could all get on the same page, then . . . yes.
However, the result is what happens to a lot of bands with diverse influences and stylistic sensibilities. Instead of a melting pot, you get a buffet; rather than a novel mix and meld of related genre and influence, you get a jukebox. The disconnect is intensified by lead vocals being shared, but never on the same song. I like jukeboxes, and both Andrew Adkins and Daryl Dasher have the chops to sing as good as they play.
So back to Dr. Seuss. The Thing One songs conjure a jive-talkin’ garage preacher from the streets of Detroit and Memphis . . . um . . . simultaneously. That’s right, funk=bye bye to the space-time continuum (see James Brown). The MC5 element is a little phoned-in, but it’s there in spirit, an all around tour-de-filth of low down and dirty gyration.
The Thing Two songs represent down-tempo mournful murder balladry meets Marshall Tucker Band. The delivery is the kind of soulful dead-pan mountain angst that conjures Luke the Drifter and the Handsome Family. Can we jump, jive and wail? Mellow Down Easy does all three to varying degrees of success, but the tension between the two keeps them from ever really “blowing their top.”