How Far To Austin are an unsigned Chicago band that is comprised of seven musicians. Their newest album is “Goodnight Madison.” They describe their music as “rock n’ soul.” And while it is true that their music is no doubt as attempt to fuse a rock n roll foundation with soulful melodies and vocal stylings, one could also designate their music as deceptively simple pop rock that draws an influence from pop, jazz, blues, “diva music”, and of course the aforementioned rock n roll.
What How Far To Austin probably does best is to amalgamate musical inputs from seven musicians, who can each be clearly discerned to be involved within each song, without letting their sound result in a cluttered manner. It never sounds like “there are too many cooks in the kitchen” so to speak. Each song remains presented in a very compact and straightforward pop sound. That being said, they are also dynamic. They move between levels of energy well, and often quickly, and use this as a deterrent against any of their sounds sounding stale. This skill is probably best demonstrated on the songs Goodnight Madison and Save Yourself. With the former keeping a central beat around which they continually alter the dressing around it, and the later in a way that moves from a toe-tapping dance feel and abruptly slows down, only to return to the higher energy.
In Heartbreak Serenade we hear probably their best example of fusing different genres into a pop rock song. There is jazzy piano, soulful & rootsy guitar lines, and a shuffling drum line. But in this song, as in the whole album, the central focus really is the pipes of the two lead vocalists – one male and one female. They frequently rely on their ability to succinctly and skillfully harmonize their vocals and blend into one voice. Or they juxtapose them with different lyrics to simultaneously show off the voice talent of each singer.
At their core HFTA is more about the vocals than anything else, the music is no doubt talented, but is really just laying down a foundation over which the vocals soar. Fans of diva rock or america-idol like, vocal-focus, music would probably appreciate “Goodnight Madison” the most. That being said though fans of easy listening, or soulful top-40 pop rock, would also enjoy this LP.