On their third album, Seasons, American Authors crank up the volume and soul in a glossy effort that is arguably their strongest album to date. The band, best known for the Top-40 single “Best Day of My Life,” showcases their staying power in the ever-crowded Indie Rock genre. Under the careful tutelage of veteran producers Cason Cooley (Ingrid Michaelson) and Trent Dabbs (Kacey Musgraves), the two co-producers bring out the best in the Brooklyn-based band.
One of the first things I noticed on this LP is their enhanced digital production and sound elements that they have brought forth. Traditionally, American Authors have been known for a more organic sound with very little electronic components and beats surrounding their trademark sound. Such is not the case in Seasons where they look for refreshing and modern production to take their music to newfound heights. Longtime fans of the band will still find plenty to draw from as American Authors still take the time to not completely lose sight of what made them a household name in more straightforward tracks such as “Neighborhood.”
Lead single, “Deep Water” has been streamed over 16 million times and has been featured in several TV spots. The track itself is a great introduction to the sound American Authors were going for on Seasons: soulful pop-rock. With its gospel choir backing the vocals of Zac Barnett, it has all the makings of a sure-fire hit. Barnett sings with conviction on the second verse, “Ain’t even scratched the surface/Thinking I deserve the dream but I don’t deserve the hurting/I want the flame without the burning/But I can’t find my purpose when I don’t know what my worth is/I was going for the title, got hit by your tidal wave/Can’t stay in the shallows, please tell me I won’t wash away.”
The second single, “Say Amen” is a worthy follow-up to the aforementioned track, and gets some powerful guest vocals from Canadian singer-songwriter Billy Raffoul. The song is right in the wheelhouse of other pop-rock bands, such as OneRepublic, and appears to be ready to reach the heights that American Authors were intending. The song features some thunderous piano strokes, some faint acoustic guitar, and a pulsating bass line throughout.
Other standout tracks on the album include the piano-driven “Calm Me Down” that also showcases a backing string section in the choruses to help drive the message home. While I could have lived without some of the heavier production elements that distracted from the overall power of the song, if you listen carefully enough you can hear a brilliant solo from lead guitarist James Adam Shelley. The bouncy “I Wanna Go Out” breaks away from the soul for a bit to bring forth an up-tempo dance track that will likely become a crowd favorite on their winter tour in support of The Revivalists. It serves as a nice change of pace in the 10-song set, one that clocks in at just over 35 minutes.
Additionally, the closing track “Real Place” serves as a worthy bookend to a collection of songs that should continue to upward career arc of American Authors. Barnett brings closure to the album when he sings, “Turns out I was lost/I was busy with a lover, God knows I never loved her at all/I needed somewhere to fall/This is where I belong/Standin’ right in front of you, waitin’ for the past to move on/I’ll give it all that I got.” By speaking to both his audience as well as to the person mentioned in this relationship, Barnett is able to solidify a connection on both ends.
With plenty of new ground covered in this album, American Authors have done their best not to be pigeon-holed into one specific genre. Instead, the band has given us a collection of songs that they can be proud of while remaining commercially appealing. For now, that should be enough to keep interest in the band high as they move forward in their musical career.