"Loving Arms," the opening track fromWorkingman's Bellfuries (check it out below), starts off like a super-catchy slice of modern, melodic pop—until the glorious 16-second mark. That's when the guitars, stand-up bass and drums enter the sonic picture, and the song gets even catchier.
That's also the moment when everything falls into place, and you realize you're hearing a truly modern, original take on rockabilly. Let's call it rockabilly pop.
The Bellfuries released an undisputed modern-rockabilly masterpiece, Just Plain Lonesome, in 2001. A few years later, they followed it up with Palmyra, a full-on folk-ish rock/pop album that had rockabilly fans scratching their Layrite-coated heads.
This time around, the Bellfuries have steered the ship at least partially back toward roots-rock territory, turning in another winner. Perhaps Static put it best, calling it "contemporary rock-n-roll that’s the cat’s pajamas."
"We’re a rock and roll band," says Joey Simeone, the Texas-based band's vocalist and chief songwriter. "People are obsessed with categories, sub-genres. We check into a hotel, and the guy or girl behind the desk asks what kind of music we play. ‘Rock and roll.’ Then they ask what I mean by that. Well…
"Let’s see. There’s elements of country music, rhythm and blues. There’s some improvisation on stage that I guess you could say is jazz-inspired. Throw in some gospel…plenty of melodies coming out of older pop tunes. That adds up to rock and roll, last time I checked. If we’re not re-inventing the wheel, I’d rather get to work than worry about renaming it.”
There's an undeniable Beatles influence on Workingman's Bellfuries, which is underscored by a rocking new cover of Lennon/McCartney's "She's a Woman." In fact, "Loving Arms" seems—lyrically, at least—to be based on Arthur Alexander's "Soldier of Love," which the Beatles recorded for the BBC in the early Sixties.