Highway 50 Indulge with “The Violet Project” EP
Highway 50 is the love and labor of brainchild Al Laughlin. His name may be familiar to you, especially if you are heavily involved with the Jam band circuit. Laughlin is one of the original members of Colorado-based, The Samples, who have been making a name for themselves for years. Fast forward to the current day, as Laughlin has launched his new musical project, titled Highway 50. The group have just released their debut EP, The Violet Project, which is 5-songs filled with surprises left and right. Continuing in the vein of blending elements of Ska, Reggae, Jazz, Pop and R&B, the Laughlin and co. create a sound that is accessible, and filled to the brim with melodic vocals and captivating lyrics.
Highway 50 is primarily vocalist and keyboardist Al Laughlin, guitarist James Hambleton, percussionist Jeep MacNichol (also formally of The Samples), Brian Nevin (of Big Head Todd and the Monsters), and Sam Young; horn players Andrew McNew, Matt Planer, Rick Demey, and Kyle Etges, and bassists Chris Wright and Tony Soto.
Starting off the record is the brilliant track “Condoplex,” which will entice you immediately. Throughout the song elements of Reggae and Ska really shine through, which bring the album to life. Laughlin’s knack for songwriting is prominent right from the very beginning, which leads us into a smooth listen. “Gonna Make It Anyway” offers up stunning instrumentation, that is pulled-together by a vibrant and lively horn section with the help of Andrew McNew, Matt Planner and Sarah Mount. Reaching for the stars, the group goes above and beyond to bring their live sound into your living room. “Just the Way I Am” follows in the same vein, with elements of jaunty piano playing laced throughout. Laughlin’s vocals are accompanied by stellar harmonies, which make an appearance throughout the record.
Lead single “Pyrite Gold,” is as enchanting as ever, as it brings in classic elements of Rock n’ Roll, mixed with a bit of Ska influence on the side. This is easily one of my favorite songs on the record, and contains brilliant guitar work and solos, that have me putting this track on repeat listen. The horns make a slight appearance midway through, which is surrouned by heavy-hitting drums. This song can be described in one word: perfect.
Closing out the EP is “The Easy Way Out,” which is a nice way to end the record. Glorious harmonies lay upon a bed of horns and instrumentation, that makes me want to hear even more of Highway 50. The laid back sound is a wonderful way to head into Summer, and one that will keep inticing me back in. The bit of Jazz that can be heard in the horn section is smooth, enchanting and enticing.
Highway 50 has released a highly impressive EP with The Violet Project, and thismakes me eager to hear more. Even if you aren’t familar with Al Laughlin’s work in The Samples, this is a nice introduction to his musical genius.
Check out Highway 50, here: