“Summer is gone,” laments Cordovas frontman Joe Firstman on “Afraid No More,” the fourth song his band’s new LP, Destiny Hotel. Given the autumn wind and the state of the world, it feels like a profundity. But Destiny Hotel isn’t merely a reflection on the change in seasons or a sociopolitical treatise. It is, at its heart, a freewheelin’ good time, consisting of 10 well-crafted tunes that radiate warm vibes and positive energy throughout.
Cordovas offer up a lively blend of thoughtful ballads, ramshackle roots rockers, and country-folk on Destiny Hotel that’s a helluva lot of fun to listen to. Each song is well written and thoughtfully constructed, but performed with a ragged freneticism that gives the material the energy and feel of a live performance.
Rockers like “Fine Line” and “The Game” evoke the sound of the Grateful Dead circa Europe ’72 and amble along with an easy shuffle. “Destiny” is in the same vein of groove-laden ’70s country rock, but it has more propulsion and urgency to it. Keyboardist Sevans Henderson is the X factor, playing some lines that give the track a dramatic flourish befitting a song about the calling of destiny.
The aforementioned “Afraid No More” is a gem of a ballad. Rooted in its simplicity and group harmonies, it speaks to the current moment in its pledge to live without fear. It pairs nicely with the very next track on Destiny Hotel, “Man in my Head.” Gone is the minimalism and tenderness of “Afraid No More.” In its place is self-doubt, paranoia, and anxiety.
The stress and anxiety of “Man in my Head” is a one-off on the LP. But the rhythmic thrust behind the track is the through line that can be heard across the record. It’s what bestows the consistency and dynamism that pulls most of Destiny Hotel together, whether on “Destiny” or Southern charmers like the joyous opener “High Feeling” and “I’ma be Me.”
Destiny Hotel concludes with “Do More Good.” Firstman promises he’s “gonna do more good, gonna talk less shit because that’s just about all I can do.” They’re good words to take heed of and abide by, a light-hearted rejoinder that we all ought to be just a little bit kinder and decent in order to improve the world around us. With Destiny Hotel, Cordovas is certainly doing its part to accomplish that.