Since their beginnings in the Kansas heartland a decade ago, guitarist Aaron Moreland and vocalist/harpist Dustin Arbuckle have captured the visceral spirit of the early 20th century Delta blues and the raw energy of post-World War II urban blues and distilled it all into a hard-driving and powerful garage-rock configuration of guitar, vocals, harp and drums. Moreland & Arbuckle build on that solid foundation with the release of their second album, Just A Dream. The 12-song set showcases Moreland's dynamic and compelling guitar work - two tracks were recorded on his cigar-box guitar consisting of three guitar strings and one bass string - Arbuckle's emotionally charged vocals and edgy harp, and drummer Brad Horner's rock-solid backbeat. Just A Dream adds a few layers of sophistication to the rootsy sensibility previously captured in the band's acclaimed 2010 debut, Flood.
"The clear objective was to retain the gritty, raw feel that we created on our prior release, but push everything up about four notches as far as sound quality, the selection of songs, the production and every other aspect of the record," says Moreland. "Everything we've done in the past was set up in one big room and recorded in a couple days. On this record, we spent far more time, and our quality control was far more stringent than it's ever been. And it shows. When this record was finished, I thought, `Yeah, this is what I wanted to achieve.' This record is fourteen steps beyond anything we've ever done before."
This heightened polish is partly the result of an ambitious tour schedule over the past 15 months. Since the release of Flood, Moreland & Arbuckle have crossed paths on the road with the likes of ZZ Top, George Thorogood, Jonny Lang, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Los Lonely Boys and other veterans who have mined the rich vein where the blues and rock intersect. Along the way, they picked up a few pointers about showmanship and how best to deliver the message, meanwhile, logging 82,000 road miles in just nine months in their Chevy Suburban.
Just A Dream opens a new chapter for Moreland & Arbuckle, but there's still a great deal of story that has yet to unfold. "The possibilities are completely open," says Arbuckle. "Our music could go in so many interesting directions from here, and yet still maintain a significant piece of what it was at the very beginning. That's an exciting place to be." If the band has any plan at all, it's "to just keep evolving and making great music without getting stuck in a rut," says Moreland. "This is the best record of our careers, and a jump-off point to rope in a lot of new fans that have never heard us before. I think we're lucky in that we have a unique sound and a unique style that I don't really hear anywhere else."