The Gary Douglas Band produce music serving as an ever timely reminder of how much passion matters. Discipline and skill, naturally, play a crucial role in determining the success or failure of any given artist but, invariably, the performers and writers who never wither under posterity’s judgment are those imbuing their work with a sense of personal stakes. To put it bluntly, Gary Douglas and his band mates mean it. The new single “Nothing Ever Goes as Planned” from the band’s forthcoming full length Deep in the Water has a level of reflective soulfulness that’s in short supply on the modern music scene and rates as a more than worthy follow up to the band’s preceding single “River Road”. Douglas’ musical journey from young rock musician into respected trial attorney and then back to music again testifies to passion’s abiding power. Championing clients, prospering as a litigator, Douglas found these things alluring, but there remained a hollow place in his heart that only playing music proved capable of filling. It’s obvious during every minute of “Nothing Ever Goes as Planned”.
The song has a largely acoustic slant and eschews the gritty guitar theatrics present in much of his other material. It’s a particularly fitting texture for the song as “Nothing Ever Goes as Planned” explores social issues with an understated literary touch and has an overall melancholy mood. Douglas’ far from technically spotless voice rings out with immense feeling and gravitas never risking bathos or melodrama. His careful vocal phrasing seeks to burrow beneath the skin of the song and inhabit it fully rather than serving up a glorified placeholder element designed to complement the arrangement and little more; Douglas is wildly successful. The backing vocals joining Douglas have a rousing quality that, likewise, helps alleviate the lyrical gloom. Despite the dark edge characterizing his depiction of society, there’s something oddly reassuring about the performance – perhaps all is not yet lost if writers with such insight and empathy still remain among us.
“Nothing Ever Goes as Planned”, once the full band joins in, has a steady amble thanks to the percussion and guitar, but they are never turned up so high in the mix they dominate listeners’ consciousness. Instead, the recording’s production balances the song’s disparate strands and weaves them together in a seemingly spontaneous expression of musical inspiration. The chorus provides a satisfying climatic moment for the song, but “Nothing Ever Goes as Planned” is fundamentally sound and charged with conviction from first note to last. The Gary Douglas Band never wastes our time with self-absorbed sideshows. Instead, Douglas and his fellow musicians seek to communicate with us and do so magnificently.
Deep in the Water will, undoubtedly, further expand the band’s renown. Douglas’ writing style clearly abides by the dictum “less is more”, but no one encountering this track will be able to say or claim they feel cheated by its spartan aesthetic and relatively condensed length. “Nothing Ever Goes as Planned”, our second chance to hear what’s to come from The Gary Douglas Band’s impending new album, casts a spell that stays with you long after the track concludes.