“We write our songs inside-out,” says Patrick. “We grab hold of something minuscule and primitive—a simple turn of phrase or an unusual beat—and try to build a song around it. It’s inefficient, but when it works, it works.”
“Land of the Free,” the second track on Strays, is a powerful anthem about homelessness in Los Angeles. With a Tom Waits-crooner opening, featuring piano and upright bass, the song falls into a dreamscape of rolling rhythms and shimmering electric guitars. “O’er the land of the freeways,” sings Patrick, “and the home of the strays.”
Patrick’s resonant vocals shine again on the hard-hitting second single “Kingdom.” Layered with ripping guitar riffs from Zac and exquisite bass grooves from Jake, the song examines the power of one-way desire. Patrick snarls, “You hold the key to the kingdom / Wrapped ’round your wrist like a weapon.”
The band’s distinctive, powerful works have captured the attention of a number of stars. They’ve backed Nick Cave, Lucinda Williams, Ashley Monroe, and Devendra Banhart, and joined Ryan Bingham on four national tours. They worked closely with Jack White and T Bone Burnett, joining Nas, Elton John, and Alabama Shakes in the PBS/BBC primetime series American Epic. They have appeared on The Late Show (CBS), and their music was featured in the films Texas Killing Fields, A Country Called Home, Little Glory, and the TV series No Tomorrow.
Strays is an EP that’s full of catchy hooks, soulful vocals, and innovative arrangements. The Americans have once again proved themselves to be one of the most exciting and talented bands in the roots music scene.