Banastre Tarleton

Review: Rocker's latest 'Moves' the needle

By Aarik Danielsen
Posted Jan 11, 2018 at 12:01 AM

Give Banastre Tarleton 30 minutes and he'll take you on a tour of the highs and lows of life, love and rock 'n' roll.

"Anything That Moves," the latest from the local veteran's self-titled band, is a brisk but winsome showcase for the songwriter's ecumenical musical approach. The best record Tarleton has released in recent memory, it marries four-on-the-floor classic-rock glories, kind-hearted ballads and novel takes on ubiquitous standards.

The record kicks off with "Where You At," which combines blues-joint and stadium varieties of rock. Its guitar chug and reedy vocals make it one of several songs here to recall memories of the late, great Tom Petty. Tarleton's style is quirkier, and a bit more indiscriminate, but the songs have a similar sense of motion.

The first half of the record especially is a showcase for lead guitarist Todd Russell and drummer Pete Generous. The two click on "Living in a Dream," Russell's guitar solo responding to gang vocals and Generous' toms rolling like thunder.
Generous also brings serious personality to "I'm Free (Tomorrow I Sail)." The drummer brings a live feel to the tune, while Noah Spaeder jumps into the mix with a strong, nimble acoustic guitar solo.

"Gentle Spirit" breaks up the raving, rollicking style of the early tracks, an earnest, acoustic-driven tribute to a young woman who disarms everyone she meets. Russell delivers a tasteful electric solo that moves the song along.

Much later in the track list, but keeping "Gentle Spirit" company, is "Please Believe Me." The song is a simple ode to hope and perseverance with a sing-song melody.

The second half of the record suffers by comparison, but "The Enchantress" qualifies as a unique standout. Termed a "classical instrumental" by Tarleton, the tune only amplifies traces of Styx and Supertramp evident throughout the rest of the record.

Scattered through the track list are a couple of strange turns: a punk-blues version of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and a closing, super-charged "God Bless America." These takes add little to the canon and pale when stacked up to the original material.

But they serve one important purpose: to underscore Tarleton's approach, one which welcomes all comers and sees possibility around most corners. That attitude is threaded throughout "Anything That Moves"; Tarleton doesn't deny the difficulties of life, but still manages to assume a guileless posture, his songs accented by notes of belief that things can always get better.

"Anything That Moves" was produced by Tarleton and Wil Reeves and recorded at several studios: Centro Cellar Studio, The Music House, The Wildlife Room and The Haunted House. Engineers were Reeves, Steve Gardner, Adam Roelke, Jimmy Steffan and Bruce Nagle.