“I can turn it around, I can right a wrong, give me just one song," intones lead singer Z. Lupetin with typically soulful, understated charm. It's practically a mission statement, a declaration of the purpose that animates the band's fourth album from start to finish: Dustbowl Revival wants to cheer you up.
Over the course of 13 songs, the Los Angeles-based ensemble works in a wide range of musical styles, most of them accentuating the positive. There's the wistful balladry of “Mirror,” a sad but ultimately encouraging song that is probably the album's best cut. There's the horn-infused and pulsating “Enemy," where Liz Beebe sings about a contentious relationship that's built around the desire to let things lie.
And then there are the more upbeat numbers, like “Just One Song” and the closer, “Let It Go." The latter bears only a passing similarity to Idina Menzel's “Frozen" anthem of the same name, and feels personal enough to stand on its own.
All of the songs here feel less rootsy than the band's earlier work, and generally less fun. For all of its positivity, the album doesn't quite capture Dustbowl Revival's spirit. A better place to find that for the uninitiated is an old YouTube clip of the band breaking out in a song called “Ain't My Fault" in the public terminal of the Newark airport.
Compared to that scene, this set sounds subdued. The talent is there, and the positivity is laudable, but it just doesn't match the gusto of their earlier work.