Abracadbra is a word sometimes used by magicians on stage (literal meaning “as I speak, I create”), an incantation thought to have healing powers, a Stevie Miller song (from his 1982 album of the same name), a pizza restaurant in France, a waste disposal service in the UK, and (as two words, and with some striking use of CAPS) the fourth album by American band Jeremy & The Harlequins.
The album is Jeremy & The Harlequins‘ return to public life after the COVID-19 pandemic, a revitalisation after enforced downtime; a new drummer, Steve Forrest (formerly of Placebo), has joined the band and Ben Jaffe and Steve Garcia (tenor sax and trumpet respectively) also participate by playing on the album
ABRA CaDaBRA is undoubtedly the result of hard work rather than magic, but it seems effortless, with much to inspire and engage the listener. The catchy “It Won’t Be Love” is likely to uplift even the most lovelorn despite the statement in the title. “One Shot (of Rock ‘n’ Roll)” builds from an acoustic strum to a jaunty electric and brass revival and, as lead vocalist Jeremy Fury was apparently hoping for, is a jolt from the pits of depression. “Someone Else” rumbles with bruised defiance and “Heaven” is a dose of unbridled enthusiasm.
Fury puts in some impressive vocals (tracked by Rick Parker). He heads up into falsetto against the deep guitar of the incantatory “Let Me Out of You” and croons like a ‘50s torch singer on “Murdered Me” and the smooth “Looking Out My Window”. “World on Fire” is performed with dramatic élan.
ABRA CaDaBRA was recorded at Renegade Studios, owned by musician, actor, producer, E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt and produced by Geoff Sanoff, with the mixing and mastering completed at Sandbox Studios in Hollywood. The album has a fully realised sound, often orchestral in nature; the memorable leading guitar line of “Lullaby in the Dark” is backed up with a sweeping arrangement, and the dramatic lovers tale of “Afterlife” is enhanced with strings by Jonny Dinklage (lead violinist for “Hamilton” on Broadway) and Nathan Cogan Post on Mellotron.
The less up-tempo songs still have energy and character, and the album captures the idiosyncratic charm of the band. There’s a touch of gospel in the consolatory “November Night” and some great call and response in country love song “Don’t Take Debbie Away”. The rebellious attitude of “You Gotta Be Bad” suggests you have to be bad “to feel this good”. The sentiment will appeal to hedonists and lovers of rock and roll.
Label: Pasadena Records
Release Date: 20 MAY 2022