Sevendust’s Acoustic Time Travelers and Bonfires
By Alyce Hayes
If you want to check out another side of one of the hardest working and popular bands in the industry, pick up a copy of Sevendust’s newest album Time Travelers and Bonfires. This second acoustic endeavor is a testament to the devotion of their significant fanbase; the band decided to launch a PledgeMusic campaign to fund the project, and, thanks to fan contributions, reached their goal in just five days. So in January of this year, Sevendust holed themselves up in the studio to record TTaB, launched their acoustic headlining tour on April 1, and released the album on April 15. Throughout the album you’ll hear the story of Sevendust’s collective journey, an element that adds a certain intimacy to the listening experience.
From the first note, the first chord, the first kick of Time Travelers and Bonfires, it’s obvious that Sevendust will be bringing their signature sound: acoustic or electric, the band’s unmistakable musical style makes itself known. The grooves are easy to get into, and Lajon Witherspoon’s voice is as powerful and compelling as ever. But don’t misunderstand; although the band doesn’t deviate from its core essence, it continues to embrace creative evolution and versatility of style.
The album’s first track, “Come Down,” works perfectly as an opener. It’s a new song that retains the punch of Sevendust’s plugged-in sound while extending a warm invitation to those unfamiliar with their acoustic side. “Bonfire,” another new track, features the perfect melding of a dynamic beat with Witherspoon’s emotive vocals and is immediately irresistible, making it a[nother] likely candidate for top single status.
Fans of Sevendust’s 1999 single “Denial” will feel right at home with this new album’s version. It translates perfectly to the acoustic style, which brings out more of the beautiful intricacies of the chord progressions, one of the song’s facets to which I have always found myself most drawn.
“Trust” is another newly-acoustic version of a favorite that maintains its appeal with the successful minor changes in Witherspoon’s vocals and Morgan Rose’s use of hand drums to fill out the intro. “Crucified,” on the other hand, was a surprise. The change from the song’s original (2001) rhythm to a swing beat was jarring at first, but after listening to it a few times (and without singing along, which required significant restraint on my part!), the new version won me over and became one of my favorites off the album. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I prefer this version to its predecessor. The more relaxed, bluesy feel to the re-imagined track only further goes to show that these guys are capable of much more than meets the eye. Or ear. You know what I mean.
While at times the album struck me as more “acoustic-inspired” than truly acoustic due to the inclusion of lead guitar and a healthy dose of strings to enhance some of the songs, it has earned itself a spot at the top of my playlist. Time Travelers and Bonfires evokes an image of hanging out at the beach with friends, trading stories and planning road trips, and enjoying some damn good music ‘til long after the sun has set. Fans played a crucial role in Time Travelers and Bonfires’ creation, and it’s as though the band is offering its thanks with an album that sounds like it were made just for them.
Often by this point in a band’s career, it would have begun to plateau in terms of creative energy and artistic growth, instead churning out replicas of its best-selling tracks. Sevendust is continuing to break the mold by showing that it’s possible, even after years of making music, to keep evolving, experimenting, and improving. They continue to push and give the best of themselves, and that drive, which yielded the impressive Time Travelers and Bonfires, a great album for both longtime fans and those just discovering the band, is a vital part of their staying power.
Sevendust is Lajon Witherspoon (lead vocals), Clint Lowery (guitar, vocals), Morgan Rose (drums, vocals), John Connolly (guitar, vocals), Vince Hornsby (bass)