To get you ready for the announcement, allow me to catch you up on Blues Lawyer.
If every decade of life comes with its own existential crisis, the one that hits in your mid-30s might be the most subtly soul-crushing of all. Too young to quit your good time, too old to change course completely without it being weird, and slowly becoming boxed in by constant societal pressure to “do something with your life,” it’s no wonder many people start to quietly freak out.
This is the strange period Oakland band Blues Lawyer take on with third full-length All in Good Time, a record of concise pop-rock songs parsing out what it means to be an adult on your own terms in a world that wants to put every facet of your existence on the clock. “I have always been really attracted to the way we measure time, especially in relationship to our concepts of what we are supposed to have achieved,” says Blues Lawyer guitarist and vocalist Rob I. Miller. “There’s a lot of different moments on the record where we’re interrogating this whole value system that comes along with it—determining my worth because of where I’m at in my life in
relation to my age, in my love life, in my career. These are all marketplaces where you can tell that you’re being assessed in some way.”
“I wanna stop talking about the way things used to be,” sings Miller on buzzy opening track “Chance Encounters,” a song that sets the tone for what’s to come. “I’m all about a change in scenery.” Throughout All In Good Time, Blues Lawyer are similarly refusing to get mired in nostalgia, examining the pieces of their past lives only in service of forging a new identity for themselves unencumbered by the pressures that surround them as musicians and human beings in the year 2022.
All In Good Time is not only a record about being in personal transition, it’s also something of a professionally transitional record. Blues Lawyer was started in 2017 as an outlet for Miller and drummer Elyse Schrock to write pop songs outside of the strictures of their more formal post-punk groups, and that attitude extended to the more casual way they approached their first two records (2018’s Guess Work and 2019’s Something Different.) Since then, Blues Lawyer has become both musicians’ main group and “graduated from being a side project band, a sort of throwaway project, to actually being a legitimate band,” says Miller.
A new outlook asks for a new sound, and All in Good Time finds Blues Lawyer shaking off the shackles of dry cleaned jangle pop for an alternative rock approach more indebted to the melodic melancholy of the Lemonheads and Teenage Fanclub as filtered through the ragged sound of early Slumberland Records releases than the Flying Nun bands to whom they used to draw such loving comparisons. It is, Miller and Schrock agree, the first record that Blues Lawyer approached with intentionality, each member (bassist Alejandra Alcala and guitarist Ellen Matthews) having spent their time in pandemic-enforced isolation working on their parts and bringing fully-formed ideas to the band when they could practice. It made for a positive and productive working experience reflected in how tightly constructed these songs are, their messages as quick and purposeful as the hooks are sharp.
All in Good Time is possibly the most congenial record Blues Lawyer has ever made, but it’s certainly their most unironically rock record. The addition of Matthews (of Oakland punk band Nopes) has kicked the band’s sound into more unabashedly riff-centric territory, bringing a kind of controlled wildness to pop songs that might otherwise want to figuratively shamble along. It’s Matthews who closes out the album on “Tangled Mess” with a guitar solo recorded in one take that the band initially intended to fade out on before deciding it was too great to cut.
All In Good Time is also notable for being the first Blues Lawyer record for which Schrock wrote her own songs. Her earnest contributions balance out Miller’s more sardonic approach—on the wistful “Scenic Route,” Schrock shakes herself out of a reconciliatory fantasy with the rueful refrain: “nevermind, that never happens.” But Schrock is also the band’s optimist and it is she who most reflects the record’s hopeful title, lightly brushing off the idea that she’s run out of time ato become who she’s meant to be on the Heavenly-esque “Late Bloomer.” “A late bloom is worth the wait,” she sings brightly. And so it is on All In Good Time.
Having begun as a lark with a sound sourced from records loved in their twenties, this record is Blues Lawyer growing more comfortable with themselves as a “legitimate band,” ready to take a risk and stake a meaningful claim in a world that rewards insincerity. Not to say there won’t always be some youthful regret in the mix. “If I’d known the band would’ve lasted this long, I would’ve picked a different name,” jokes Schrock. – Mariana Timony