Taking us on a journey through the mountains of Prescott, Arizona, the versatile three-piece band Ponderosa Grove releases a thorough 11-track album entitled 'The Debut.'
Comprised of Candace Devine, Drew Hall, and Johan Glidden, the three beating hearts that makeup Ponderosa Grove are eager to push this album and introduce listeners to their versatile and dynamic sounds. Through their combination of unique sounds, voices, and influences, Ponderosa Grove promises to leave listeners captivated with each release. Without further ado, let's dive right into the trio's debut album, 'The Debut.'
Opening the album is the exciting introductory track, "Slowing Down in Real Time," which begins with Ponderosa Grove's unique acapella harmonies that encourage listeners to look up from their phones and experience real-life at hand. As the warm instrumentation begins making its sonic appearance, we're met with a groovy bassline, upbeat brass tones, a plucky electric guitar, and lively drum breaks. As Candace Devine brings us to our knees with her powerful and influential vocals, she's accompanied by the savory tones of Drew Hall and Johan Glidden, who later close the song with the utmost excitement and enthusiasm, perfectly starting the album on a powerful note.
Taking the album's second track for a spin, "Freedom Ride" opens with Candace Devine's soulful and powerful vocals that take us through a sweet sonic journey alongside Ponderosa Grove's groovy instrumentation. As they begin fueling our speakers with an upbeat brass section that stands out in the foreground, Candace Devine is later met with a plucky bassline that complements her savory and flavorful vocal tones. As she makes her way to the outro alongside Johan Glidden's lively background vocals, the track comes to a sweet and soulful end with help from the dynamic and cinematic instrumentals, as they keep us hooked from beginning to end.
Taking a trip down the "Waterline," we can't help but feel a soulful and haunting similarity to Fleetwood Mac through this song's tender, groovy, and hearty instrumentation. As Candace Devine later makes another sweet and memorable vocal appearance, she delves into the song's lyricism that touches on picturesque scenes of taking your time by the waterline and keeping hope for brighter days to grace you on life's dynamic journey. We truly can't get enough of this song's gentle and chilling atmosphere, as Ponderosa Grove truly transports us back to the 70s with this mesmerizing and dreamy tune. With added harmonies from Johan Glidden, the song comes to a gentle and warm end.
Gracing our speakers with the next track, "It Never Rains," this track highlights the captivating vocals of Johan Glidden, who opens the song with a lyricism that touches on feeling swamped from life's trials and tribulations while wishing for a sweet downpour. While he's accompanied by tender piano melodies, the instrumentation later transforms into yet another soulful and chilling approach through Ponderosa Grove's haunting harmonies, a thrilling electric guitar, mid-tempo drum breaks, and a powerful piano lead. Four tracks into the album, and we're already swooned by the versatile and talented stylings of Ponderosa Grove. As the song comes to a close, we're left in a sweet trance that keeps us floating above our stratosphere.
Reaching the album's fifth track, "Til Tomorrow," this song opens with another haunting electric guitar melody accompanied by Candace Devine and Johan Glidden's stunning vocal compilation as they begin the song on an introspective and reflective note. While continuing their ominous and dreamy venture, Candace Devine later crashes into her powerful vocal stylings alongside the heavy drum breaks and soothing background harmonies. We're truly in awe of Ponderosa Grove's vocals and instrumentation, as they never fail to leave us in a dream-like state while also waking us up with their fiery transitions and instrumental switch-ups that move sonic mountains.
Landing on the album's midway point with "Save My Soul," this is where Ponderosa Grove comes to life. As the song opens with the heaviest of downtempo drum breaks accompanied by an eerie and chilling vocal harmony, Candace Devine later makes her way in while leaving us mesmerized with her brilliant raspy vocals that complement the song's grit and power. While she begins yearning for someone to save her soul and get her out of these dreadful nights, Ponderosa Grove later expands their instrumentation with crashing drum breaks and haunting rhythm guitar melodies, leaving us banging our heads and stomping our feet to the fiery beat.
Slowing it down with the next piece, "You Got Me," the song gently opens with reverbed electric guitar picking and Candace Devine's calming vocal stylings. While she begins touching on a love that keeps her going through life's ups and downs, she beings mustering all the power and courage to serenade the one she loves alongside Drew Hall and Johan Glidden's soothing vocal harmonies. We absolutely adore the poetic lyricism and dream-like instrumentation that's captured in this ballad, as Ponderosa Grove is constantly proving their unique versatility and musical approaches through various tracks within this incredible project.
Haunting our speakers with their intense vocal harmonies on the next track, "One Seat," the song opens with a brilliant vocal introduction that later shifts into Johan Glidden's magnetic stylings. As he begins singing about feeling alone on his journey through life, he touches on themes of finding peace and serenity while seizing the opportunities he's granted with. Although this song is rather delicate and gentle in sound, it truly speakers a loud and powerful message. Especially as the instrumentals begin to expand, Ponderosa Grove leads us down the song's cheerful and uplifting atmosphere while closing it off with the utmost heart and passion.
Taking us through a shimmering sonic atmosphere with the next track, "Love," we're met with a tender and nostalgic instrumental introduction through soft drum arrangements and plucky electric guitar melodies. As Candace Devine takes on yet another passionate and soulful ballad, she sweeps us off our feet with her broad vocal range that touches on a love that's done a number on her. With the addition of a sparkling and shimmering organ, we can't help but feel another nostalgic sonic approach that sends us back in time. This track is truly a breath of fresh air, as Ponderosa Grove perfectly captures the essence of sonic and lyrical love.
Sending us into sonic bliss with the tenth track, "Holding Me Back," the song begins with a gentle and calming instrumental arrangement accompanied by Candace Devine's mesmerizing vocals. As Ponderosa Grove makes their way to the catchy hook, they fuel our speakers with their chilling harmonies once again while basking in the warmth of their tender and soulful instrumentals. We love the ease and serenity of this song, as it reminds us of prime-time country instrumentals merged with soul and folk-rock. The highlight of this song has to be the soulful and powerful hook, as Ponderosa Grove leaves us in a trance with their relatable lyricism and chilling instrumentals.
Closing the album off with the soothing outro track, "Into The Blue," the piece gently opens with peaceful acoustic guitar picking accompanied by a tender piano melody and calming drum breaks. As Candace Devine begins serenading us with her lullaby-like vocals, she later touches on taking accountability for the wrongs she's done while acknowledging the love that's knocking at her door. We adore the major to minor shifts that Ponderosa Grove delivers within this song and the entire album, as they truly bring us into a chilling and passionate cinematic experience. As they close the album with this beautiful and serene outro track, Ponderosa Grove truly leaves us feeling as refreshed and rejuvenated as ever.
We haven't been this impressed by a debut album in a while, and we're sure that Ponderosa Grove will continue exceeding our expectations with their future releases. Find the 11-track album, 'The Debut,' on all digital streaming platforms.
A warm welcome back to BuzzMusic, Ponderosa Grove. We're heavily entranced by your 11-track album, 'The Debut.' When did you begin writing songs and instrumentals for this album? How long was the project in the making?
We started writing during the shutdown of Covid. As musicians, (as everyone will understand) all of our work also shut down. If you're used to playing often as we all are, we found ourselves going a little stir crazy missing the stage and the connection to audiences. So we just dug in and started writing. More for a therapeutic outlet of normalcy than a plan for an album. But we looked up and all of a sudden we had an album + worth of songs and it seemed instantly like a good idea to make an album.
When writing your lyrics for the album, 'The Debut,' did you bestow this responsibility upon one sole member? Or did you share the songwriting process collectively?
Everything about this band is collaborative. We all kind of rotate who we write within a number of combinations. Each of us and our contributing band members are all also solo artists and in other bands. This grouping is really special because we have all brought our influences and past experiences from different corners of our lives to this project; and it has made a really eclectic and exciting sound with lots of variation and dimension.
Regarding the broad instrumentation within your album, 'The Debut,' was it only the three of you that tackled the instrumental creative process? Or were you accompanied by other producers and musicians as well?
We have such a wonderful and incredible group of musicians that contributed to this album. Vocally, Candace, Johan, and Drew do the heavy lifting. Musically, Drew and Johan laid down all the guitars (and violin by Johan). We have the Legendary Kenneth Crouch on Organ and Wurlitzer, Bryan Taylor on Drums and Percussion, Shawnee Snaketail on Keys, Steph Griffin on Trumpet, Paul Ruffner on Sax, Vince Porter on Tuba and Trombone, Cosimo Bohrman on bass, and Dylan Ludwig producing in all the extra sparkle!
Does your trio have a favorite song within your album, 'The Debut?' What makes this song stand out to you?
It sounds completely arrogant and cheese ball at the same time, but it's sincerely our truth; there are so many varied sounds and vibes on this record it's really hard to pick a favorite. We believe it depends on your mood!
How does your album, 'The Debut,' allow listeners to get to know you better? What should your audience learn about you and your sound from this debut album?
We hope that if there's one takeaway in getting to know us, it's that at the very least we're not boring. We are not afraid to write music we enjoy without the worry about what genre box we fit into! We embrace our different influences. We embrace that some songs are folky while others have a dance flair. Some are more poetic, and some are anthemic. We hope you love the multi-facets as much as we do!