New Brunswick acoustic trio Cold Weather Company tap into the talents of several Rutgers pals to expand their harmonic acoustic sound their third LP, “Find Light.” PHOTO BY ADELE SAKEY
It’s been really fun and equally impressive to watch Cold Weather Company’s career unfold. They handle their growing business as well as their intricate three-piece harmonies and lush acoustic-based arrangements.
And so that brings us to their third album, “Find Light,” which like 2015’s “Somewhere New” and 2016’s “A Folded Letter,” also boasts intelligent, emotional story songs and inventive interplay musical and vocal symbolic of the trio’s bond. But this time out, guitarists Jeff Petescia and Brian Curry and pianist Steve Shimchick produced the 16-song outing with the help of several of their talented musician friends from Rutgers, including the horn section of the hip-hop band Cook Thugless.
A much bigger palate with which to express themselves, Cold Weather Company ably live up to the task with additional help from engineer and co-producer Pat Noon (River City Extension, Bric + Mortar) of EightSixteen Recording Studio in South River. Masterfully weaved together by mastering engineering Alan Douches (Cage the Elephant, Clutch) of West West Side Music, “Find Light” finds a warm, winning home in the golden throats and nimble fingers of Petescia, Curry & Shimchick.
My favorite track is “Clover,” a meaty tune that serves as the centerpiece of Shimchick’s impressive four-song cycle about a relationship that swerves from wary optimism through defeat, reflection and, finally, letting go. The cycle also includes the fragile yearning and exotic rhythms of “Do No Harm,” the richly rhythmic “Things You Saw” and the stark, deceptively simple “Atlas.” His bright mix of classical music and indie rock is balanced by the darker sounds of Curry’s folkie singer-songwriter approach and Petescia’s jam-band style.
Finding light in darkness is a theme that permeates each band member’s songs, the album title, and its artwork — a three-paneled cover of rocky shores and the violent collision of waves in Maine, with the sun reflecting off the chaos. Musically, the chaos includes “Reclamation,” a cathartic chronicle of Curry’s two near-death experiences -- a serious car accident and a fall through ice into a frozen lake -- as well as their psychological impact. The triumphant end is marked by a stellar horn line by trumpeter Rick Rein and trombonist Frank Rein, brothers from Princeton now based in Philadelphia.
On the opposite end of the fun scale is the funky Dave Matthews Band-at-Jazzfest romp that is “Pocket,” another standout. Out of the nearly 50 songs that Cold Weather Company have released across three albums, this one is most unlike the others. While it maintains their strong organic approach, the collaboration with Cook Thugless trombonist Keith Lalley, saxophonist Brian Clines and bassist Riley Byrne is a rhythmic feast that borders on second line.
Other “Find Light” guests include cellist Kevin Lucero, violinist Nicole Scorsone, Great Big World/Sting percussionist Zach Jones, percussionist Shane Luckenbaugh, and Tyler Rousseau and Scout’s Devon Moore on backing vocals. It will be interesting to hear how Cold Weather present all this music live, but since arranging is one of their many strengths, I’m sure it will blend seamlessly into their repertoire.
Bob Makin is the reporter for www.MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.