A well-placed group of collaborators — from the Beach Boys’ Blondie Chaplin to Living Colour’s Corey Glover to the always-funky Ivan Neville — give life to the Young President’s aptly named Coalition. The worry is that might, indeed, overshadow Jake Hertzog and Mitch Kaneff.
Freedom of Speech, an impressive Hendrix-meets-Nirvana power trio-style debut album from 2011, didn’t exactly cry out for that kind of help. But there’s a reason those guys are famous, and each brings new elements of crunchy cool to the Young President’s latest batch of songs. Neville’s vocal, for instance, accentuates the old-school Sly Stone-style funk thump of their opening “Time,” whereas the bone-breaking groove of “We The People” is underscored by Glover’s searing turn at the mic. Later, Glover adds a tough edge of the Lenny Kravitz-ish “Stand Up For Love,” one of this 11-track album’s seven turns by drummer Anton Fig. Adam Ezra adds a loping attitude to “You Got Me Deep,” then does his best Glen Phillips on “Grey Space.”
But maybe the best development to come from this multi-artist collaborative effort by the Young Presidents involves the four tracks showcasing Chaplin, who also shares an association with the Band. The deeply touching “Love You Forever,” the anthematic “Dripping with Honeysuckle” and the broadly inspirational “You Will Be on Your Way” illustrate, all over again, the often-overlooked treasure that are his oaken, knowing vocals. Chaplin, Glover and Neville also join together for stomping rendition of Edwin Starr’s ageless “War.”
But where does this leave the Young Presidents? After all, it couldn’t be easier to focus — as we’ve done here — on their more famous guests, to the exclusion of the actual headline artists on Coalition. It’s both the blessing and the curse of this project, due for digital download on December 10, 2013, that they’ve brought in such unforgettable talents. Come, if you must, for the big name contributors, but stay — you really must — for the smart songcraft, flinty licks and transformatively present narratives constructed for them by Hertzog and Kaneff.
The Young Presidents have confirmed a February 11, 2014 album release event at the Cutting Room in New York City to coincide with the brick-and-mortar release of ‘Coalition.’.