The Welcome To Sha-La Land album, featuring songs by DownTown Mystic, Bruce Engler, The Discontent and Monte Farber
The 4th of December saw the release of the new single, “Test of Time” by Downtown Mystic. This is the lead track on the ‘Welcome To Sha-La Land’ album (released 18th December), featuring songs by DownTown Mystic, Bruce Engler, The Discontent and New Age Guru Monte Farber. It’s a roots-rocking track with a positive message about love that endures and is especially poignant in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. DownTown Mystic songwriter/producer Robert Allen comments, “This pandemic has been a shock to all of our collective systems and our personal emotions are something that doesn’t get a good deal of attention. Test of Time is for all the people who did not get a chance to share a final goodbye with their loved ones.”
‘Welcome To Sha-La Land’s’ cohesion is largely a function of the consistent presence of DownTown Mystic who is featured on all tracks with Bruce Engler and The Discontent. Set within memorable frameworks of roots rock melody, tempo and drive, the variety alone could sustain a listener’s interest over the 14 track collection.
The album finds a positive balance between the random and the fleeting, the rational and perdurable. There’s a large number of truly epic moments here, like the opener ‘Test of Time’ (DownTown Mystic ft. Bruce Engler), which also features Trixter/Ra bass player PJ Farley, and the late great drummer, Tommy Mastro of The Discontent. This is followed by ‘One More Chance’ (Bruce Engler ft. DownTown Mystic), and the crushing ‘Pollution’ (The Discontent ft. DownTown Mystic).
Untouched by trends and uncorrupted by even a modicum of potential major label and mainstream fame DownTown Mystic continues on his journey of independent resilience delivering thunder and lightning via the Sha-La Music record label. All of which is evident throughout ‘Welcome To Sha-La Land’. The magic continues with the slow-burning ballad ‘Standing Still’ (DownTown Mystic ft. Bruce Engler) and the mid-tempo reggae-inflected strum of ‘Fiona’ (Bruce Engler ft. DownTown Mystic).
Never one to follow road maps too closely, if not for the fact that he sticks to rock’s essential core elements in most settings, DownTown Mystic has masterminded perhaps one of Sha-La Music’s strongest and most captivating collective albums to date. Hearing ‘Welcome To Sha-La Land’ is like chancing upon an enchanted radio station, crackling with distant affected melodies and wisps of harmony, awash in chunky driving rhythms and shards of overdriven guitars. ‘Dying Breath’ (The Discontent ft. DownTown Mystic) perfectly epitomizes the aforementioned statement.
Moving forward we find an alternative version of ‘Better Day’ (DownTown Mystic – Acoustic Mix), followed by another classic-sounding, heartfelt, acoustic-driven ballad, ‘The Last Teardrop’ (Bruce Engler ft. DownTown Mystic). ‘Dead End Space’ (The Discontent ft. DownTown Mystic) takes us back to the sound of rich guitar crunch and sweeping melodies.
‘3-Way Heartbreak’ (DownTown Mystic) is built to rock the house with a sticky rhythm and a euphoric chorus. It is purposefully followed by ‘Good Karma’ (Monte Farber) for a moment of deeper introspection and respite. This moment initiates the array of bonus tracks, which include: Test Of Time Single Instrumental’ (DownTown Mystic ft, Bruce Engler), ‘Last Teardrop Instrumental’ (Bruce Engler ft. DownTown Mystic), and ‘Give Me A Message’ (Monte Farber).
The message this collaborative album leaves me, is that Robert Allen aka DownTown Mystic is an enigma, an inspiration, and some kind of rock n’ roll genius, and he makes sure that the company he keeps are pretty much on the same level. To which ‘Welcome To Sha-La Land’ plays unabashed testimony. This is yet another perfect introduction to DownTown Mystic’s musical world.
DownTown Mystic YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/DowntownMystic1
DownTown Blog: https://downtownmystic.net/blog/