Several years off the back of their previous release, Old Souls, Deaf Havana is back and ready to start the new year off right. The five piece outlet admirably took their time with this record, making sure that everything was up to their incredibly high standards. In a Facebook post uploaded late last month, the band stated “at the beginning of 2016 we all met up together, agreed to record another album and concentrate on Deaf Havana. We then began touring again, playing festivals again, writing again. We began working closely with our new management, our new label and building a whole new team of people to work with.”
In the time that the band took off from touring and releasing music, James and pianist Max Britton wrote and recorded some songs for James’ solo project. Though the acoustic tracks were exclusively released on Soundcloud, Deaf Havana fans were pleased with the way the demos simply showed off Veck-Gilodi’s lyrical ability. You can find similar successes on Deaf Havana’s most recent record, All These Countless Nights, set to release in full on January 27th.
James Veck-Gilodi takes us on a lyrical journey through times he’s had and places that he’s been since the last time we “spoke” through Old Souls. Like most twenty-somethings, James falls in love with the places he’s been and the people he’s met along the way, if only for a moment. This becomes apparent through songs like album closer “Pensacola 2013,” where James sings “thinking back to that bar in Pensacola / I wonder if my name is still written on the wall / and I’m thinking back to Hugh and Chelsea / I wonder if they’re married or still together at all.”
All These Countless Nights starts off on the right foot with the track “Ashes, Ashes.” The song’s acoustic opening gives us a glimpse of the song’s bare bones and perhaps what it sounded like when it was first conceptualized. In this love letter to what’s to come, James agrees to put his former self to rest and to “take control of his life.” We can always count on a strong chorus from Deaf Havana, and you’ll want to be screaming “give my ashes to the coast” at the top of your lungs.
As fans, we had our first listen of “Trigger” the spring after Old Souls‘ release. If you’ve been listening to the track on YouTube since 2014, I’m sure it’s been well worth the wait. Finally released at the end of the summer, “Trigger” opens with a catchy guitar hook that immediately warrants a second listen.
“L.O.V.E” might seem a bit heavier than what might be expected of the Hunstanton rockers as of late, but it still feels familiar. In a pre album release interview, James admitted “previously I’ve been really conscious of the style and what I’m going to put on a record. And if a song didn’t really fit, I wouldn’t put it on. But with this, any song I wrote I was like ‘let’s not write it off’ and in the end, they ended up going together better than the previous records.”
The vocal effects on James’ voice in “L.O.V.E” paired with the guitar part reminds us of all of the different sounds that Deaf Havana is capable of and just how rare it is for a band to be able to go from a heavier rock track to an acoustic-based one so seamlessly. If you’re looking for more tracks like this, look no further — “Fever” also sonically brings us back to the heavier side of Deaf Havana’s discography.
“Happiness” brings us back to an acoustic styled track that takes an interesting approach to the topic of excessive drinking. The song’s chorus shows us that James knows that his habits need changing, for the sake of himself and the person he loves. He serenades us with “cause my drinking takes its toll everybody around me / especially you / it’s like a degenerate disease / cause it eats away at everything.” Musically the track does a nice job of bringing out the beautiful vocal tone of Veck-Gilodi. “Happiness” reminds us that even if to some listeners, Veck-Gilodi’s vocals aren’t always at the forefront, they should be admired.
Lyrically “England” and “Seattle” seem to pair well together. “England” brings out the side of James that doesn’t want to be who he is while he’s in England anymore. In the chorus he sings “my mind’s made up / and I’ve had enough / oh England, get out of my head.” “Seattle” tells the story of how through traveling, James finds the good in all of the places he visits, but can’t yet find the perfect match for him. He sings of meeting friends in Arizona and Seattle, but feeling like Nashville is more for him. James admits that “Nashville feels more like home to me and that’s alright / but Broadway’s not the same in broad daylight.”
“St. Pauls,” the third single from the album, starts off with a guitar part that just kind of pulls on your heartstrings. A love letter to a girl who changed James’ course, the lyrics admit that he is being pulled in two different directions. “St. Pauls” is yet another track that takes us to a certain place, as James and his former flame lived near St. Pauls Cathedral in England. As perhaps one of the most beautiful songs on the record, the band certainly picked a great single.
The album ends with “Pensacola 2013,” which tells a story of the nearing the end of a relationship. As my favorite track on the album, “Pensacola, 2013,” has all the elements of a Deaf Havana song that I enjoy so much — strong lyrical content, killer guitar solos, and an ear-pleasing chorus. Thinking back to Old Souls, “Caro Padre” is one of my favorite album closers of all time, and I knew that “Pensacola 2013” was going to be stiff competition. Thankfully, the album’s tracklist lives up to the band’s capabilities and proves that the boys truly know what they’re doing.
In a world where music fans everywhere are scared that their favorite band’s new release won’t live up to their previous one, Deaf Havana fans never have to bat an eye. Thank you for growing with us and giving us the music that we need exactly when we need it.
Now excuse me while I go and preorder All These Countless Nights on every platform it’s available.
Stand out tracks: “Ashes, Ashes” / “Pensacola 2013” / “St Pauls” / “Happiness” / “Trigger”