When it comes to some artists, you can just tell they got “it” from the moment you hear them sing. And you can certainly sense an “it” factor when you hear the voice of Jeff Crosby. It’s gritty, genuine and it sounds like he’s been singing for decades despite his young age. He’s toured all over the world and played with acts such as Reckless Kelly, Micky and the Motorcars and Lukas Nelson. He spends his time touring with Jerry Joseph and The Jackmormons and his own band The Refugees. Well today he has just released his debut album with his band the Refugees, titled Waking Days. And it’s definitely an album Americana and country fans can both appreciate.
Waking Days opens up with “City Girls.” Right away you get a taste of the bluesy, Americana sound that this band produces. Crosby’s voice is so smooth in its delivery and easily draws the listeners in and makes them want to hear more from this group. This is followed by “Carved in Sandstone,” which is the shortest song on the album. The song is about a man reflecting back on the moments he had with his ex-girlfriend. The steel guitar lingers throughout this reflection ballad. “Carved in Sandstone” immediately plays right into “Homeless and the Dreamers.” It’s about a man writing home to his love and trying to find his way in life. It’s very much a drifter aimlessly finding his way through life type of song and the production perfectly fits the story being told here.
The acoustic and steel guitar driven “Red White and Blue” sees Crosby singing about life and love. Once again I’m impressed by the instrumentation on display by Crosby and the Refugees. Love is the central theme again in “Water Shapes and the Canyons.” A man wonders where his love is and what she would say to him right now. The song is also a play on how water shapes canyons, representing a metaphor for the man’s life and how this woman shaped him. It’s really clever songwriting and makes this one of my favorite songs on the album. “Emily” is another standout of Waking Days. It’s about a man who looks back realizing a woman he knew, Emily, was always right and that she was the one for him. But he later finds out she’s now married and that he has to move on. The instrumentation of the song really sets a romantic vibe throughout and fits well with the lyrics. Crosby also does a great job of conveying the emotion of the story.
The epilogue and song that follows “Emily” is “I Should Be Happy.” The man realizes he should be happy that he could now move on with his life now that he knows the woman he loved is now married and has a family. But he just can’t seem to be happy. “Only One I Need” is a love ballad about a man only needing his love to believe in him and the only thing he needs. It’s a self-realization song that seems to come at the end of a long journey. This all set to some lingering steel guitar licks that perfectly sets the tone of the song. The most rocking song of the album, “What’s Normal Now,” is next. This song has a frenzy of guitar play throughout it. The album’s title track brings the record to a close. It kind of ties a ribbon on the whole album, as it seems to take all of the lessons learned on each song and puts them together on “Waking Days.” It’s a testament to Jeff Crosby and the Refugees’ artistry to be able to tie the whole record together and tell a cohesive, well thought out story.
Jeff Crosby and the Refugees certainly impressed me with Waking Days. Combining rock and roll, blues and country, this group creates a compelling sound of music that I think any true music fan could come to appreciate and enjoy. The instrumentation immediately catches your ear and each song has meaning and emotion behind it. It’s impossible not to connect with Waking Days. I definitely recommend checking this album out. This is a true group of artists that deserves to be heard by as many music fans as possible. Waking Days is a truly good album.