June 21, 2012

Kyle Hollingsworth Band

In the 30 years acclaimed keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth of jam band legends The String Cheese Incident has been a musician, he’s explored virtually every genre imaginable, creating some previously unimaginable style blends in the process; become a craft beer brewer; established a respected solo career; married and become a father of two; and has immersed himself in the world of music production. On August 19th, Kyle releases his third solo album; it celebrates all the facets of his personal and musical journey. Fittingly, he calls it SPEED OF LIFE.

For over twenty years, Kyle Hollingsworth has been an integral member of The String Cheese Incident, contributing songs and helping the group boldly venture to the fringes of rock, bluegrass, Afro-beat, funk, classical, jazz, Latin, and psychedelic. His SCI songwriting contributions have been distinguished by his strong sense of pop composition and his dedication to musical expression. In this respect, SPEED OF LIFE offers plenty of classic Kyle, it’s uplifting and grooving, but it embraces fascinating EDM touches, vintage funk, and some shades of 1980s new wavy synthpop. In addition, lyrically it’s his most personal and autobiographical work, finding him warm and reflective, assessing his life so far and its many varied blessings. It’s a festive occasion, and to get the party started, three tracks have been designated as “Hop Tracks” and thoughtfully paired with a craft beer to enhance enjoyment.

“With this new album, I was trying to explore some traditional funk elements as well as pop sensibilities,” Kyle explains. “I reached back to my earlier influences and mixed in some newer sounds and sonic flavors. The end result is an amalgamation of old school ‘Kyle’ with a modern sound. The songs speak to my life as a father, musician, brewer and producer. It speaks to my ‘speed of life.’”

Despite the album reflecting such refreshingly diverse musical and lyrical inspirations, SPEED OF LIFE exhibits cohesion and assuredness. The album opens with “Racer X,” a euphoric, 1970s-vibing car chase funk track that Kyle wrote as a teenager and rediscovered digging through old four-track tapes. The balmy “Here We Go” conjures percolating Juju music grooves, Crescent City funk, a pinch of sublime Paul Simon, and soaring pop all the while inventorying the hustle and bustle of the life of a full-calendar musician who’s dedicated to being a good father and husband. And the reflective “Happening Now” is pure new wave bliss, calling to mind 1980s Cars and Thomas Dolby synthpop.

Another facet of Kyle’s expression has been album production. In addition to producing all his three solo albums (including SPEED OF LIFE), he recently produced a critically acclaimed album by the funk and reggae band Eufórquestra. “I enjoy great studio albums, the recording process is just as a important to me as playing live,” he says. Kyle made the sessions for SPEED OF LIFE, a festive homecoming of sorts and gathered many great artists and friends to contribute to the record, including Dave Watts (drums – The Motet), Garrett Sayers (bass – The Motet), Dan Schwindt (guitar), Jason Hann (percussion – The String Cheese Incident), Michael Kang (guitar – The String Cheese Incident), Dominic Lalli (saxophone – Big Gigantic), Bonnie Paine (vocals – Elephant Revival), Gabriel Mervine (trumpet – The Motet), Matt Pitts (saxophone – The Motet), Kim Dawson (vocals – The Motet), and LaDamion Massey (vocals).

“This album is how I feel right now, watching things zip by,” Kyle says, reflecting back. “I want to be present to enjoy every moment because I am excited about the speed of my life.”