CD Review: Efren — Write A New Song, Playing The Five Spot, April 26

Write A New Song
Slo Pro Records

By Ellen Eldridge

While the clichéd ideas in country music – losing a job, dog, and wife and so on – stick out as trite, mundane and self-pitying in a way that should be reserved for Goth music, Efren takes the simplicity of everyday life, love and writing music to a beautiful and peaceful place in the opening title track of Write A New Song. The perfection of both the lyrical harmonies and the major chord combinations gives a sense of summer joy captured succinctly in the truths that I would guess all independent artists feel.

The second track continues the observation of an indie artist’s plight by targeting the idea of the song’s title, “If my heart don’t fail me then this whiskey probably will.” The feeling in the folk rock matches the spirit of songs by the Grateful Dead. Surely Efren’s first studio release, Write A New Song, will inspire much dancing and camaraderie among Atlanta artists. Efren has been around the local Atlanta scene playing shows for two and a half years. The band has released two full-length albums and an EP, but Write A New Song is the first studio-produced (recorded at Full Moon Studios with the notorious Jay Rodgers engineering, and mastered by Joel Hatstat Audio).

The guys (Scott Low on vocals and guitar, Jonathan Brill on backup vocals and guitar, Darrin Cook on bass, and Jamie Derevere on drums) claim interests as “making good music and meeting good people” on their Facebook Page, and the list of artists liked includes Dylan, Drive-By Truckers, Lucero, Iron and Wine, Bonnie Prince Billy, Wilco, and Neutral Milk Hotel, which gives fans great insight into the perspective of the songs. As Low says, “This is modern Americana music with a hint of psychedelia and experimentation. This is North Georgia folk music with songs about front porches, losing love, bourbon and good friends gone and still here. This is southern soul music. No one walks away from listening to Efren without understanding the intense emotions and hard times that have gone into creating these songs.”

I wouldn’t call Efren country nor would I list them as hard rock, but a perfect blend of folk hope for the common artist is what the guys create on Write A New Song. Just the simplicity of “find me a map, find a new world” and “all alone in this house, just me and the dog, another sip of whiskey and write a new song” sung with just enough rasp in Low’s voice calls like a hometown hero’s anthem; quite inspirational in its maintenance of continuing the creative push.

Track eight, “Find a New Man,” opens with a guitar riff that beckons Tom Petty, and Low’s vocals grate pleasantly like a chain-smoking Tom Waits. The song title mimics the album title, but here the guitar work adds a darker and deeper strain on the song than on “Write a New Song.” The juxtaposition shows Efren’s ability to not only entertain and make light of the pursuit of passion but also to really rock down and feel the grit of life.

Make sure you make the time to get out for one of the release parties in Atlanta and Athens.

Efren plays The Five Spot on April 26 and GA Bar on April 27.  


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