The Departed ‘Adventus' (Underground Sound/Thirty Tigers)
The introductions are over. The Departed have not only arrived, but they're ready to rock 'n' roll, whether their one-time fans are or not.
After two years of writing, touring and recording, the red dirt band — former Cross Canadian Ragweed singer/guitarist Cody Canada, ex-Ragweed bassist Jeremy Plato, Texas singer/guitarist Seth James, Tulsa keyboardist Steve Littleton and new drummer Chris Doege — released last week its first album of original material, “Adventus.”
Although it is the group's second album, the title, which is Latin for “arrival,” proves entirely fitting. They maintain red dirt roots via sinewy songwriting — one or more of the band members wrote all 14 tracks, with James and Canada splitting most of the songsmith duties — but with “Adventus,” The Departed clearly establish themselves as unabashed rockers who feel more kinship to the blues, funk and the Tulsa Sound than folk or country.
Canada and James each take lead vocals on six songs, Plato croons the folky traveling tune “Hobo,” and the whole band shows their considerable stuff on the four-minute genre-shifting instrumental “Mark It Wrong.”
Canada opens the album with the defiant anthem “Worth the Fight,” a driving declaration that the band isn't going to let anything stand in their way of creating music. The Yukon product provides much of the blunt emotional force of “Adventus,” whether he is bringing to life the cautionary tale “Blackhorse Mary,” expressing his love for his sons on “250,000 Things” or cutting former friends and ex-fans off at the knees with “Cold, Hard Fact,” the album's standout track.
James' smooth, soulful voice contrasts effectively with Canada's sharp twang, but more importantly, the Texan's subtler style soothes the raw nerves his counterpart so boldly plucks. His kiss-off “Burden” starts as a simmering waltz that eventually bubbles into a roiling crescendo, while his funky plea “Prayer for the Lonely” channels its despair through a potent groove reminiscent of Booker T. & the MG's. James closes the album with “Sweet Lord,” a lovely acoustic hymn that will have open-minded fans singing The Departed's praises and hoping that a follow-up will come soon.
— Brandy McDonnell