"You are not long for this world / So do not long for this world / Have a good look around / Take joy where it's found / But you are not long for this world."—from "Not Long for This World"
As I write these words, The Clumsy Lovers are in the middle of a long road trip. But then, for this band, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, life is essentially one long road trip.
Known for their frenzied, frenetic, and ridiculously fun live shows—more than 1,500 of them in the last decade—it's not unusual for the Clumsys to do 25 shows in a month. One of the best lives bands I've ever seen, this quintet used to think that making an album simply meant playing a concert in a studio and getting it on tape. "We used to bang out our albums in a week," says Chris Jonat, the band's founder, bass player, and chief songwriter. "People love the gigs, so we just put down the best tunes from the current live shows the same way we did 'em live."
The result was a handful of very-good-but-not-great independent albums that sometimes sounded, well, like they were done in a week. But since signing with Nettwerk a few years ago, the band apparently got the word from someone at the label: "You can do much better in the studio."
The Clumsy Lovers got the message, and the result has been a pair of excellent albums—2003's After the Flood and now the recently released Smart Kid, a collection of 15 tracks that are, sonically, all over the map—fitting for a band that spends its life on the road. Generally known for their self-described "raging bluegrass Celtic rock," the Clumsys branch out even further here with splashes of reggae, rap, country, Cajun, doo-wop, and funk. You'd think that might make for an impossible mix, ...1
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