Kevin Beadles | You Can't Argue with Water

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Rock: Americana Rock: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock Moods: Mood: Quirky
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You Can't Argue with Water

by Kevin Beadles

One part hook-laden indie pop-rock, two parts quirky Americana. Features award-winning songs "Shine" (WCS International) and "High" (SONGWARS). "A fresh and talented artist"--KRCB 91FM. Music critic Alan Monasch describes it best in Album Notes below.
Genre: Rock: Americana
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Shine
3:32 $0.99
2. Mrs. Jones' Cadillac
3:29 $0.99
3. High
3:31 $0.99
4. You Can't Argue with Water
2:50 $0.99
5. Sharkskin
3:02 $0.99
6. A Prisoner in Chains
2:36 $0.99
7. Where We Come From
4:09 $0.99
8. Caroline
3:49 $0.99
9. Happiness Is Small
4:27 $0.99
10. A Love Sublime
3:34 $0.99
11. Indian Summer
3:54 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Kevin Beadles: “You Can’t Argue With Water”
By Alan Monasch (reprinted from his review in Local Music Vibe)

Kevin Beadles’ website asks “What if Elvis Costello and Lucinda Williams got in a pick-up truck and drove across America writing songs?” Beyond the probable discomfort of Mr. Costello’s wife, Diana Krall, about that road trip, I say that Elvis and Lucinda would have needed Kevin Beadles with them to generate the formidable, accessible, catchy, astute, sometimes poignant, interestingly-angled-perspective songs on “You Can’t Argue With Water.” These are most assuredly Kevin Beadles’ songs, imbued with his strength, his musical and lyrical sense, his emotions, his vision, his humanity, his heart and soul.

What is noticeable overall on the CD at the technical level is the craftsmanship in the writing and the production. Intros are well-conceived, well-executed and well-recorded and mixed, each with a recognizable, engaging musical motif that leads you very willingly into the song. The songs themselves are memorable and I find myself singing them in my head as I go through my day. I am delighted to find that the musical hooks, which I learned to define as “the part you want to hear again” back in the day, are not just in the choruses or when the title is being sung; here the verses are musically interesting and engaging and melodically memorable on their own. The songs are connected stylistically, all showing Mr. Beadles’ keen melodic sense and timeless-yet-fresh-and-new harmonic underpinnings, and are thoughtfully ordered so that the progression of songs itself is meaningful and satisfying.

Kevin is a lyrical master craftsman who has clearly polished the words of each of these songs to a bright shine, and in fact, “Shine” is the first song on the CD, one of two obvious hits (I’ll get to the other in a moment) with its intensely hooky and catchy chorus and pulsing, forward-moving beat supporting its exuberant love theme. Yet this song packs quite a bit of dramatic punch with lines like “jealous eyes can’t bear to stare at something that’s not cynical and dark just like their jaded hearts.” “Shine” gets on base quickly, as any leadoff hitter should.

The other hit is “High,” the third tune, a slower, more stately two-step love-paean to a stellar woman sung by a mortal man. This gives me a chance to say that Kevin Beadles’ beautiful and versatile voice makes these songs at the emotional level, and here his delivery is at its best. You can feel the singer’s awe of the woman he deems to be above him; you can hear every nuance of how he feels as the melody ascends and soars “up to her sky.” The chorus of “High” marks it as an obvious hit as I can’t get it out of my head, and I really don’t want to.

There are three songs on the CD that show strong humorous elements and even stronger heart and mind behind the jokes. The first, “Mrs. Jones’ Cadillac,” is a country-tinged tune that paints a funny picture of a woman with a past who drives a hearse, but uses this comic image to bring out a serious point in the chorus, which is particularly effective in the way that it uses what may seem like pop fluff call-and-response between the lead singer and the background singers to deliver this character assessment and near-admonishment, rendered with Beadles’ signature at-an-angle quirkiness:

“Every grievance that she’s nursed
(Every sorrow, every hurt)
Rides behind her in the hearse
(and it’s only getting worse)
What you don’t bury you carry along
But the stench gets a little strong.”

“Sharkskin” is a pure rocker whose line “I found me a suit with a bad attitude” gives the flavor of the piece really well, and as is usual in these songs, the notion of a guy protecting his once-burned heart with a new suit and invoking the heartlessness of the shark makes the metaphor meaningful and almost poignant even in its clever hilarity.

The third comic work is “A Love Sublime,” that has the dubious distinction of referencing The Carpenters (“Rainy days and Mondays always make the losers whine,” and, happily, the end of the line undercuts the start) but actually may be the third hit of the CD as well, with its Buddy-Holly-sings-the-Beatles(-and-The-Association) bounciness. It is cynical about love without being dark (see “Shine,” above) and actually also uses the word “shine” in the chorus, which points us back to the start of the album as this penultimate song on the CD plays off of the first cut in both language and theme.

One song, “Where We Come From,” not so much comedic as grand in scope, alludes to British seamen and Civil War soldiers and finishes by talking about the Kevin Beadles band itself (even mentioning the lead guitarist, John Foster, by name and instrument) in service of the theme of knowing what the roots of some amalgamation of people are, because these alliances and their members are important. This gives me a chance to say that the playing on the CD, by Beadles himself, John Foster, the lead guitarist and harmony singer, and Kevin Harris on most everything else, including bass, drum programming, keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars and some of the backing vocals, is tight, crisp, inventive, solid and cogently supportive of the songs and the vocals. Beadles and Harris produced the CD in tandem, and Harris, as always ultra-professional, musical and polished, was the recordist and mixing engineer. The high gloss on the CD is a tribute to the confluence of fine writing, arranging, performing and processing.

A number of the songs on “You Can’t Argue With Water” are about someone who is missing or gone, about loss and a number of kinds of longing. “Caroline” is reminiscent of the Springsteen/Mellencamp, uh, camp, with its protagonist a small-town boy whose lover has headed toward the bright lights, and that’s all I’m going to say about the song’s plot. These are clever lyrics, and they make their emotional point in a spare but terse musical setting.

Following directly on the CD is “Happiness Is Small,” a song I think is just extraordinary:

“Happiness is small
You hardly notice it’s there until it’s gone
But the hole that it leaves
Feels a thousand miles deep”

and those lines, the beauty of the music and the intensity of the falsetto are making it very quiet and still in and around me as I listen to it. I don’t want to talk about it; I just want to hear it and I want you to hear it, too. It has a mighty heart-tug in it. What I can say is this: “Happiness Is Small” might be the title song, could proudly be the best song on someone else’s CD, but on this one, unbelievably, it is not even in the top two.

That distinction goes, in my opinion, to the CD’s actual title song, which I’ll discuss in a moment, and to “A Prisoner In Chains,” which is one of the tightest, clearest, most effective two minutes and thirty-four seconds I have heard in digital form. I know that “Prisoner” is a gospel song, so it has a religious reading as well as a romantic-love reading, and that Kevin says that it is “minimalist,” and it does indeed use few short lines and simple chords to have its effect, but that doesn’t explain how it uses an extended metaphor about courts and jails, set up in the first line (“If there were a prison for crimes of the heart”), to make such a powerful statement about love and redemption. If happiness is small, perhaps beauty is even smaller and more gemlike, and this [is a] beautiful gem of a song has facets of the pain of love and the pain of living as well as the uplifting grace of connection, both religious and human.

“You Can’t Argue With Water” is quintessential Kevin Beadles, which makes it a perfect title song for his CD, both hooky and haunting. In it, the protagonist puzzles over a romance cut short and tries to explain it to himself and to us, concluding that sometimes, or maybe all the times, the reason love happens, or doesn’t, is like the weather, is like nature, and will defy all attempts to bring it under the rules of debate and logic. The Beadles-drenched image of a man arguing with water is at once cockeyed, revealing and, in the end, the statement of a simple, sometimes exasperating truth that finally releases the protagonist from his fool’s errand. Musically, this is just plain a monster hit; because it feels so good, you will not be able to stop singing it to yourself, and you may find yourself playing it for others so that they can not be able to stop themselves from singing it, too. And I’m sure we will all be spending less time arguing with water in the future…

That leaves us at the last song on the CD, “Indian Summer,” a finely-crafted little reverie (with a lyrically and musically delicious first line: “A slow kiss, an unexpected thaw”) about a love that its protagonist continues to treasure and hold on to, the way we try to hold on to summer itself as fall sets in, and the way that we find we want to hold on to this wonderful disk of music even as it comes to its close. It has a line, “Even now I still look back and wonder if I had a chance, the right words might have changed your mind,” that connects this song to the bridge of “You Can’t Argue With Water” (“Was there something I could do that would change her mind?”) in the way it speaks about evanescence and the persistence of small regret.

You can’t argue with mastery like this. Lucinda Williams and Elvis Costello may be in that pickup truck out on the American road, but Kevin Beadles is most assuredly driving, and it is his songs that they will want to hear when they get back home.



to write a review

Amy Wilson

Kevin Beadles reaches a new "High" with this cd
If you are familiar with Kevin Beadles' music then you know he is a skilled and clever lyricist. He's also got a rich voice with good range and plays guitar. With this new album he has elevated all of these components to a new level. It's clear he has been fine tuning his craft and his passion for his art comes through.

There are so many wonderful songs on this album that illustrate his ability to tell a story. Sometimes it comes across in an aching yearning sort of way, like "High" (true love ballad) or "Happiness is Small" or in a fun pop music way like "A Love Sublime (which appears to be an ode to his beloved Beatles) or "Shine." Even on the songs that seems light and carefree there is a depth in the lyrics that is not found in most songs that are for mass consumption. I think the songs "Where we come from" and Mrs. Jones' Cadillac" are classic examples of his story some cases you even learn a little history! Some might mistake Mrs. Jones' Cadillac as a bit irreverent and silly but upon closer inspection you realize that the real message of the song is to not hold on too tight to your past let it become your own hearse.

If there is one song that I find myself going back to over and over it is Caroline. He sets the story up so well that I have a vision of the lost girl in my head and the unrequited love of the boy next door. In one song you get a vision of a girl's entire life and wasted opportunity. The music of the introduction immediately lets you know that you are in store for a serious song but not in a way so dark that you are turned off. The song also allows Kevin's strong vocals to come through in many different ways.

If you have never listened to any of Kevin's music I would suggest starting with "Shine." And not just because it won a finalist spot in an international songwriting contest! It has a driving beat behind a upbeat melody that you want to sing along with - esp at the high notes. But the difference between this and most songs that would appeal to the masses is - again - the lyrics.

My suggestion is to listen to each song at least 2x the first time you listen to them. Once for the music and once for the lyrics. Understanding the stories behind each song will definitely enhance your appreciation for them.

Stuart Forman

What a treat!
This is a sensation second album from the Kevin Beadles Band. It starts with a bang with Shine and while it played I danced in the kitchen while washing the dishes (and I never do that—dance in the kitchen that it). The vocals are clean and bright, and the lyrics are clever. The guitarist is quite talented and I found myself doing an air guitar more than once on some particularly tasty licks. What I really liked about it was its organic feel. It wasn’t overproduced, or electronic in any way. It was just some very talented musicians playing their heart and soul out into a fine piece of work.

I fully anticipate this to be a breakout album for the KBB. It’s excellent.