Chatter of the band “Aloud” had been swimming around in my ears for about a year before I finally got out to see a show. Curious as to what the buzz was all about, I braced traffic on a weeknight to get a front-row spot at a favorite local Silverlake venue, The Satellite. As the crowd settled, the lights dimmed, the sound of my slurping on my overpriced tequila soda was quickly drowned out by the opening strums of an Epiphone Casino and Fender Jazzmaster swirling with retro tones reminiscent of ’60s and ’70s rock. It only took me until the first verse of the first song, to be completely and utterly hooked.
There are only a handful of bands in my lifetime that I have witnessed live, without previously being acquainted with their songs, that I have absolutely fallen in love with their music from the get-go. You know, those bands that you just can’t wait to hear what’s next, and around every next nook and cranny of their set is yet another surprise melodic instrumental hook or ear-catching bridge that leaves the listener both in awe, and eagerly awaiting the next song. It’s like quickly becoming friends with someone you’ve just met, but felt like you’ve known a lifetime.
After frequenting their live shows around town, I knew that they were something special, but once their latest album, Sprezzatura, dropped in my lap – it was clear to me that they were brilliant. I’ve been holding off writing this review for some time because it’s hard to find the right words to say about a masterpiece. I’ve spun it on my record player nearly every day, blasted it with the windows down on drives, and really taken the time to get to know it front to back. It’s as though every time the needle drops, I’m rendered with a completely new experience.
Aloud, typically a six-piece band, consists of a two horn players (saxophonist Alanah Ntzouras and trumpeter Vanessa Acosta), longtime bassist (Charles Murphy), drums (Chris Jago), and is fronted by Jen De La Osa (guitar, vocals), and Henry Beguiristain’s (guitar, vocals). As if their chemistry on stage wasn’t clear enough, De La Osa and Beguiristain are a married couple that has been making music together since their teenage years. To sum it up perfectly, they are musical soulmates. Jen and Henry, originally from Miami, have recently transplanted to Los Angeles after paving their way in both the Miami and Boston music scene. Sprezzatura, written during their time in Boston, perfectly sums up the growth, love, loss, and enlightenment they have experienced throughout their time both living there and together as a unit.
From beginning to end, Sprezzatura is a journey. Sometimes artists prefer to ease their listener into the album but Aloud hits the ground running. The opening song “Loving U’s a Beautiful Thing”, is a powerhouse punch with De La Osa at the forefront. This track boasts of vibrant and soulful horns, trippy backing vocals, slick guitar, and Jen and Henry’s intertwined vocals that seem to wrap around each other in a loving yet powerful way – as if you can almost feel the immense connection they have for each other. The follow-up track, “Waiting (Scenes From a Lonely Planet)”, keeps the album’s momentum high and dives in right away with a grand drum build-up and soulful Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats-esque horn hooks. This is the first time we hear Beguiristain’s vocals take center stage on the album, but De La Osa isn’t far behind complimenting his vocal parts with her retro-inspired harmonies and underlying counter vocals.
“Hungry Land” is the powerful and horn-heavy third track of Sprezzatura. This song truly highlights that guttural growl in De La Osa’s vocal range reminiscent of Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes. A distinct descending guitar melody kicks off the track and acts as a catchy retro-style lead-in to each verse. “Hungry Land” commands your attention from beginning to end, with a surprise saxophone solo outro that only heightens the intensity of the song exponentially. With a beautiful twist, track seven “In Spite of Language”, stirs up nostalgic emotions with hints of The Zombies “The Way I Feel Inside” or The Beatles “Until There Was You”. Stripped down to minimal instrumentals and with Jen and Henry’s vocals at the forefront, this timeless sound and song paint a beguiling picture of love, understanding, and what it means to grow old with your partner. “In Spite of Language” is one of those pieces that generations to come will cover as it deserves to be honored as a “classic”.
“Renters For Life”, one of the more relatable songs on the album for those struggling with both following an unconventional dream and the inner turmoil it brings when being faced with society’s standards on what success means; owning a house with a white picket fence, raising a family, and having a “hard-working” 9-5 job. Though this was not originally one of the more well-promoted songs before the release of the album, “Renter’s For Life” stands out on the album as the ultimate dreamer’s anthem.
Sprezzatura is effortlessly an album that will sustain itself throughout the future ebbs, flows, and changes in music. It acts as a timeless collection of relatable, lovable, and heart-string pulling pieces that are all interwoven together to create a true work of art. In these current times of uncertainty, let Sprezzatura inspire you. It is without a doubt that this album is simply one of the best albums to come out of 2020 so far.
Listen to Sprezzatura below and let us know what you think!