“Hey there,” Ben Burwell and company gladly hail the unknown ear, “How long has your entire been cold and tired? Give me your hand, we’re gonna find you fire.” This warm welcome greets the listener on “Your Thief,” the first track off of Taj Raj’s latest, Night Speech, and continues for a strong seven minutes. It’s the first of many compositions on this release that pass the five minute mark, leaving the ear well sated. So like the dedication of time lent to the creation of this release, required in return is an investment on part of the listener: to take an hour of the day to press play and let be.
Full of lush instrumentals and harmonic vocals, Night Speech is cinematic in a present and grounded way, using instruments more familiar to a rock band than an orchestra. Burwell on vocals and guitar is joined by Chris O'Hal on guitar, Jake Wallenius on drums and percussion, Jake Pavek on piano, rhodes, and organ, and Mark Kartarik on bass, to fill a lineup that was present for every step of the process in making this album. Their combined talents and influences converge in a mature and connected sound, in which all the elements make sense as a whole. At times it hints of rock, at others it breathes country or Americana, and then moments of piano and string ballads or late 70’s classic rock break through for a locally unmistakable, but versatile sound.