Follow Us on Twitter

ALO - Fly Between Walls

ALO, Fly Between Walls

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

ALO (or Animal Liberation Orchestra) is another extremely laidback mood-lifting act that’s been signed to Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records label.

Fronted by the husky vocals of Zach Gillis (which sound like a cross between Johnson’s and Peter Gabriel’s), the band excel in sun-drenched harmonies that are constructed around delicious guitar riffs and tasty Rhodes keyboards.

They’re instrumentally more layered than Jack Johnson’s acoustic guitar sound and a little more funkier than label-mate Matt Costa but their vibe is such that Fly Between Walls is just as capable of banishing the blues away from any rainy day.

I mention both Costa and Johnson because anyone lucky enough to have got hold of Johnson tickets for his sold-out UK tour will find both ALO and Costa in support (so it’s well worth getting there early for a change).

Fly Between Walls sets out to weave quirky Californian soul with shape-shifting jams, introspective lyrics and sun-soaked funk.

It’s not as mainstream as a lot of Brushfire material and in tracks like the ambitious, multi-layered Shapeshifter, drifts off into a prolonged jamming session of Mike Oldfield-style guitars and groovy Rhodes melodies that mark a major detour from the initial direction of the track.

It’s also quite lyrically ambitious, spouting lines like ‘I’m the kind of guy you want in your government, I’m the kind of guy you want in your bed, I’m a shapeshifter’.

Nevertheless, such experimental moments do nothing to diminish the overall enjoyment of the album.

At it’s best, Fly Between Walls is as upbeat and life-affirming as the best of Jack Johnson’s material.

Forthcoming single, Girl, I Want To Lay You Down, which actually features Johnson as guest vocalist, is a genuinely feel-good love song that effortlessly conjures memories of summer affairs and those early, heady days of being in lust.

The vocal trade-off between Gillis and Johnson also works well, perfectly complimenting the simple guitar riffs and easygoing style. You can practically imagine the two of them sitting around a beach campfire, acoustic guitars in hand, serenading their girlfriends.

Album opener Spectrum also has a terrifically chilled vibe that stems from yet more uplifting riffs and a really melodic structure that invites you to sing along. There’s even a Ukulele to add to the sunshine feeling.

The groovier sound of ALO is rife throughout Possibly Drown when the Rhodes piano is to the fore, while they’re at their mellowest during moments like Fly, which draws proceedings to a wistful, beautiful close.

The sleevenotes on the album state that it is dedicated ‘with love and appreciation to our friends and families’.

It shouldn’t take long to become friends with these guys.

Track listing:

  1. Spectrum
  2. Wasting Time
  3. Girl I Wanna Lay You Down
  4. Barbeque
  5. Possibly Down
  6. Pobrecito
  7. Shapeshifter
  8. Gardener
  9. Waiting For Jaden
  10. Fly
  11. Girl I Wanna Lay You Down