O.A.R.’s In Between Now and Then is a literally just that: the first and last song, respectively, are titled “Now” and “Then,” a droll little peculiarity that announces that there’s more to the record than meets the eye. Yet, the songs revolve around repetitive grooves and unremarkable changes, and the record leaves much to be desired.
After the short, dreamy interlude “Now,” “Dareh Meyod” is a windy jam song that seems to have no direction. The horns that come in for the slight crescendos of music do not save the song from meandering aimlessly. “Risen,” however, is quite different. It’s a very upbeat, almost folk-rock sounding that’s very easy on the ears.
Again, with “Right on Time,” you’re thrown for a loop; it’s a faster, more of a rocking song with a catchy guitar hook. It plays nicely from soft verses to a loud, banging chorus. The band sounds very tight, and harmonizes well.
As the record moves on, the songs stray little from the jam/folk feel of the band. Hazy and fantastical lyrics, along with rolling grooves and horns create a very laid back atmosphere of jammy music, yet there’s no real change of tone. The song “Revisited," again, is a strong song, yet the bass groove permeates throughout the song and tends to make it drag at times.
“Hey Girl” is a happy, accordion-flavored pop song that shows the simplicity and talent of the band at the same time. It freshens up the record while giving the feel that the band could extend the song into a nice, long improv without losing the original melodies.
At about the halfway point in the record, “James” is an acoustic flavored song, favoring the more folk side of the band. “Coalminer” also favors the acoustic, yet has a prominent finger-picked guitar lead with an electric flavored chorus; a solid song, but beings to stale the records as the rest of the songs continue in this vein of folky, jam-like rock tunes that have hints of country and almost Caribbean/beach-like tones.
Touching on jazz and funk as well in later songs, In Between Now and Then is a solid collection of songs from a talented band, but does not branch out as much as it hints at in some songs. O.AR. is a good band, but does not seem to push itself on record, and this album tends to float without much change or direction. But the type of music O.A.R. plays seems like they want it that way: a free-form, sporadic sense of invention-as-you-play.
Tom Fraher is a Contributing Writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.