A Little More Time, Reigning Sound’s seventh proper full-length, is the original lineup’s first in-studio collaboration since 2005’s Home for Orphans LP, which Merge reissued last year. Ultimately, that 2020 reissue laid the groundwork for the outfit’s reunification. Cartwright explains, “When Merge reissued Home for Orphans, we booked a little string of shows with the original lineup. We still love to get together and play every couple years.” The short reunion tour wrapped just as pandemic hit the United States. Soon after, Cartwright found himself with a batch of new songs. With Reigning Sound’s current lineup based in New York City, then a COVID-19 hotspot, Cartwright made the decision to produce the new record back in Memphis—though he did regret not being able to work with the players behind 2014’s Daptone-recorded Shattered. “It was not something I anticipated, making a record with the original lineup again,” Cartwright says. “Mainly, because I had guys I was playing with, and we had an established dynamic that was working."
In addition to working with old bandmates, Cartwright enlisted acclaimed producer Scott Bomar (Al Green, William Bell) at Electraphonic Recording, to produce in downtown Memphis. “Scott was in a band called Impala for many years,” Cartwright recalls. “And he also played bass with me and Jack [Yarber] on the Compulsive Gamblers’ Bluff City album. He has the machine I like to record on, a Scully one-inch 8-track. I’ve worked on one-inch 8-tracks for the last four records, and I’m kind of addicted.” While having 24 tracks offers up more capability for overdubs, Cartwright prefers the limitations of 8-tracks. “It’s super helpful when you get to the mixing process and your head isn’t still going, ‘What should I add?’ It helps streamline the process, and it helps so I can focus on what’s there instead of what’s not. Then I can just work on the sound.” For the new LP, Cartwright employed a string section, an additional percussionist, and a pedal steel player on some of the tracks. Beyond that, Coco Hames (The Ettes, Parting Gifts) sings co-lead vocals on “Just Say When.”
“Let’s Do It Again,” the album’s boisterous opener, captures the mundaneness and yearning that isolation creates, but with Reigning Sound’s signature foot-stomping rock ’n’ roll. It’s also delivered with optimism and a desire to reconnect with people. Elsewhere, on tracks like “I’ll Be Your Man,” the LP decelerates and shifts into moody ballad territory. Rounding out A Little More Time is a raucous cover of Adam Faith’s “I Don’t Need That Kind of Lovin’.” The 1965 single is a longtime staple at Reigning Sound shows, but this is its first appearance on record.
“When I write songs, it’s the melody I write first. The melody dictates what the mood is whether it’s about being happy, confused, sad, lonely… The melody speaks to a feeling. From there, my job is to translate that feeling into words. I try not to be too structured in how I think about that because the more ambiguous it is, the more people can read their own story into what you’re saying, and I think that’s important. On some level, I consciously don’t want to know what a song is about.”
Ambiguities aside, the LP closes with the poignant “On and On,” a song that reminds us that despite all of the highs and lows we face, “love is still a choice… love is the only choice.” It offers a glimmer of light. These days, that’s not a bad note to end on.
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