24 July 2020 (released)
05 August 2020
The concept of the full-length album has seen better days. With attention spans shrunk and no requirement to print to a physical form, there's nothing mandating that an artist produce the standard Long Play. Some purists have taken up the noble cause of championing the full-length with some great results however the real winner of late seems to be the EP. Four to six songs that act as a snapshot of a moment in time or a stylistic direction. Without the concern over having to press to vinyl or plastic every time you produce a record, EPs can be quickly banged out to internet land. This can prove to be a boon for artists who would like to explore various avenues without the pressure of having to cram a bunch of ideas on to one LP album.
The Cole Patenaude Band who are based out of the Vancouver suburb of Langley have a somewhat dualistic nature. One part go-for-broke Texas-inspired blues, the other soft, soulful, singer-songwriter. On their latest album Are You Happy Now? the band unites these two forces to make a full-length record that jumps song to song from gulf-area shuffles to midwest back porch serenades. From the guitar slingin' clown riding a lion through a ring of fire album cover, you'd never guess that this record contained any country-spun crooners but that is the paradoxical nature of the CPB.
'Letchugo' gets the album going with a tune made to score an ad for the new Dodge Ram. The unmistakable rodeo stomp of a four on the floor kick and the Stratocaster sitting somewhere between twang and jangle. Patenaude courts a young lady with his guitar backed by horn hits and a steady backbeat. The easy-going bar blues keeps coming with the shuffling 'For the Money' and the Fats Domino beat of 'Would You Be Mine'.
'How To Love' takes us on our first left turn. Electric guitar is traded for acoustic, sticks traded for brushes, and a cozy living room piano replaces the bar-room ambience. Patenaude's voice even transforms from honky bluesman to gentle Americana singer. For the rest of the record, they trade off blues and country numbers till concluding with the title track. 'Are You Happy Now?' throws down low and slow with Patenaude once again taking on the classic bluesman voice a la Joe Bonamassa.
The latest release from the Cole Patenaude Band showcases the band competently taking on both homespun country and scorching-city blues. Patenaude transfers skill sets with complete facility. However, rather than work as an album with depth, the record seems like it can't settle on an identity. Songs fall fairly clearly into one of two categories. With the industry as it is now, this might be the perfect use of the EP. There are several artists recently that have released dual EPs, either within a few weeks or even on the same day which reflect two separate yet valid styles. If the album had a new style every track, then a hodgepodge alum might have been the way to go but when the songs fall so distinctly into one of two characters, the double EP probably would have been the right system of delivery.