Honestly, I hadn’t heard of Merry Travelers before writing this article, which is a shame. I’ll blame the pandemic for that and likewise thank the editors for letting me review their new album.
Their new album, Golden Daze, is beautiful. There is a lot of variety and fusion of genres within this album. They have a bit of jazz, folk, rock, soul, and blues (to name a few) sprinkled throughout but overall it is psychedelic rock. It very much showcases the band’s skill and musicality. Merry Travelers has a very notable upbeat discography seen on this album. They do slow it down in “Merry Travelin’” with a touch of blues and folk, and “Hallelujah” with some gospel and soul.
The band has such a great integration of different instruments that blend the genre of this album. Co-founder, Charlie Harris notes that: “Whenever you hear the band perform, it’s always a collaborative in how we arrive at that sound. The skeleton of the music we (with Holly Monet) write together but the color, the intrigue, and little sprinkles are everyone.”
Harris’s bass lines deliver that funk and soul, especially in the songs “Walk Softly” and “Flight of the Bodhi”. Drummer, Adiare Thomas provides essential and striking rhythms throughout the album and helps the band further expand its psychedelic sound. Cody Jensen on the keys provides so much diversity that contributes a lot of style and flair especially seen in “Golden Daze,” “Yellow and Blue,” and “Merry Travelin’”.
Louie Pappas is on the flute and sax throughout the album which helps further provide that psychedelic sound but also further adds layers of folk and jazz, as noted in “Ode to Jimi” and “Merry Travelin’” Guitarist, Mark White whose solos are heard in the songs: “Sun and Moon,” and “Ode to Jimi” (to name a couple) which provide a blues and rock sound. Co-founder and lead singer, Holly Monet’s sultry voice is quite mesmerizing and haunting, adding layers of jazz and blues from her voice alone.
The album is full of great musicality but it is also full of great lyricism. Monet has taken the time to take note of her life experiences and the life lessons she learned, noting: “This album is full of lessons and coming-of-age revelations. I think the cornerstone and the agenda that I’m pushing so much is for people to slow down. We move so quickly. The pace of nature vs. the pace of mankind is so vastly different and that’s okay but I think the biggest lesson that I’m often putting in my songs and that I’m holding in my heart is the feeling of slowing down and being present. Taking time to take care of yourself and taking the time to take care of the people around you. For me, that feels like that’s definitely in several of the songs in some way or another. It’s the underlying ethos.”
One of my favorite lyrics is in “Merry Travelin’”: “Learning how to live when you think you’ll die/ somehow you’ll make it through sunrise”. It is so hopeful and has the energy: “Keep going” and don’t give up”. While the life lessons Monet learned are prevalent, the core of this album is the optimism and appreciation of life despite its setbacks. As noted in “Walk Softly”: “Life is sad and beautiful”.
“Hallelujah” is (probably) my favorite song on this album. There is this beautiful harmonization with the chorus that always encaptures me whenever I listen. Monet has noted her favorite songs (which are subject to change) are currently “Golden Daze” and “Merry Travelin”. However, “Yellow and Blue” is thought of being the “sample platter” of Merry Travelers and encompasses the band. As described by Monet: “It’s bluesy, mellow, but it’s got some heightened moments”.
Merry Travelers’ Golden Daze is wonderful. It’s funky, groovy, and very grounded. I hope that when you check it out, you enjoy it as much as I did. But more than this album, if you have an opportunity to watch them perform — I highly recommend it.
Having watched them perform last Saturday afternoon at Rose Bowl Tavern was a great experience. They played songs off the album and they used that to introduce new songs. I enjoyed the performance and very obviously by the audience, I wasn’t the only one. People were taking pictures, they were swaying and just having a good time. Merry Travelers has a few upcoming performances which I will do my best to make and so should you.