If It’s True!’s self-titled album sounds unusually accomplished for a debut full-length, it should come as no surprise. According to a news article I caught on the web site of some Omaha paper, this lineup came together on account of Adam Hawkins having impressed enough people with his songwriting and voice through low-key performances at places like O’Leavers that he was eventually able to rally some of the city’s top instrumentalists behind him.
This delightful set of pop songs starts off in a dreamy waltz-ballad vibe (introduced by the same lovely la-la-la harmonies that impressed me so the first time I saw this band perform live), and then stays there for three songs. In less skilled hands, such a sequence of tunes would be in danger of sleepy monotony, but Hawkins and his band have great ears for detail, (as well as dynamics, as evidenced by the tension-building bridge of the gorgeous “Nothing Like”) so when the pace finally picks up with the straightforward rocker “As Long As We’re Together,” one has no complaints that the shift in mood didn’t come sooner.
It’s True aren’t averse to sonic gimmicks like the vocoder in “No Sense,” (which also boasts a soaring, rootsy bridge built around organ and country-rock guitar solo) but anyone who’s seen earlier incarnations of the group or heard the Slo-Fi Records double-EP There, There, Now../I Think It’s Best… (If I Leave) knows they needn’t lean on them, having heard a number of these songs pulled off with little more than acoustic guitar and boom-box production and suffer little for it.
“What Have I Done” is definitely the darkest thing I’ve heard from It’s True!, jarringly so in fact, and illustrates that while Hawkins and company may choose a gentle touch most of the time, they’re definitely not lightweight. Hawkins slides effortlessly between his characteristic croon and a deeper tone appropriate to the song’s heavier moments, and even escalates it as far as a metal roar momentarily as the song hits it climax. The more brooding mood of this section of the album carries on through the epic build-up of “Honestly,” a [nice](http://092.me) prelude to the chilled-out closer. If I had any complaint, it would be that I might have liked to have the album end with something closer to the blues-shuffle version of the final song, “I Think It’s Best (If I Leave)” that was on the Slo-Fi disc, with its touch of Jack White swagger. But the psychedelic space excursions of this version are pretty sweet too.
I had been anxiously awaiting this album, to have on CD the big arrangements I’d heard performed live, and It’s True! have delivered on the promise of those live experiences. They are currently on tour supporting this record and you are well-advised to get out and see them. They’ll be at these places:
- The Riot Room in Kansas City tonight
- the 400 Bar in Minneapolis tomorrow night
- the Ames Progressive Office in Ames on Saturday night
- Duffy’s in Lincoln next Wednesday
- The Yacht Club in Iowa City next Thursday
- Ronny’s in Chicago next Friday
After which they’re heading out West early next month and working their way back to the Midwest by late June. Check the full list of dates on their MySpace.