As one of the most successful independent acts of the 1990’s, Dispatch melded in folk, reggae fusion and jam rock and gained a fervent following along the way. After a decade long hiatus Brad Corrigan, Chad Urmston and Pete Francis decided 10 years was much too long without new music. The trio released an eponymous EP last summer that eased up on the reggae-influence and focused primarily on folk and Americana with the welcome addition of the banjo and ukelele.
These new musical elements are the framework of some of the best songs on Circles Around The Sun and coincide with the multi-instrumental nature of the band. “Flag” inspires like past narrative-based songs such as “The General” and “Broken American”, but shines with a hypnotic ukelele. Standouts “Get Ready Boy” and the title track pick up the pace with speedy banjo strings in folk fashion.
Aside from Americana influences, Dispatch deftly experiments with fusions of tribal drums and guitar distortion on “Sign Of The Times”. “Not Messin” is characterized by a deep howling guitar and paced vocals, while “We Hold A Gun” utilizes progressive rock traits with a jam-ready beat and psychedelic vocal effects. “Josaphine” excels as a bluesy melancholy affair with the trio harmonizing in tale of trying to find a lost love that would be a perfect festival closer. Surprisingly, the only moment Dispatch’s return album falters is when they rely on tropes of the early days. “Feels So Good” is an earnest attempt at a slow burning reggae-tinged love song, but ends up sounds like a Zac Brown leftover.
Dispatch should please fans old and new with the typically expansive sounds of Circles Around The Sun. The move to banjo-fueled Americana isn’t a stretch, adds to the band’s multi-genre repertoire and showcases just how diverse these multi-instrumentalists are.
Pre-order Dispatch’s Circles Around The Sun before August 21st and a $1 donation to Amplify Education will be included (Dispatch Music, Amazon, iTunes). Be sure to catch Dispatch at the Fox Theatre on Friday, October 12th (tickets).