“Big New Life”
From their new project, Big New Life
By Dale McCurry
March 24, 2023
On January 29th, the Vinyl Kings—an accomplished band of veteran Nashville musicians, songwriters, and producers were pleased to premiere “Smoke Rings for Renee.” The lovely and powerful song —a celebration of a life … and life itself—was the impetus for a new body of work collectively called Big New Life.
The stimulus for “Smoke Rings”—written by VKs founding member Jim Photoglo—had been the passing of his bandmate Josh Leo’s wife, Renee LaRose Leo, an artist and educator, who stepped off this mortal plane on January 29, 2021. Today, the long anticipated project—a wave of multiple new releases during the coming months— continues with a song and a declaration: It’s a “Big New Life.”
“Big New Life” is a Wilburys-esque ensemble composition and delivery. Leo and Photoglo and bandmates Larry Lee and Harry Stinson each wrote and sang lead on a separate verse of the song. Though reminiscent of a Traveling Wilburys tune, it is less by design and more by an organic emergence from skilled and successful musicians—each traveling independent and dynamic career and vocation paths, only to merge onto a roundabout circling a microphone where they make music with brothers they respect, and with whom they share a love and aptitude for the process.
Animation Drawings by Motionvast
As writers of “Big New Life,” the Vinyl Kings had one lone charge: To sustain the stance of survival “Smoke Rings” had set like a steely jaw turned to face whatever life has to present. The tune succeeds superbly.
Photoglo says it this way:
Gonna put my cell phone in the kitchen drawer
Turn off the screens and head on out the door
Spend some time under the stars above
Look in the eyes of the ones I love
“These are personal songs about us and what we’re going through as musicians—coming to terms with life, growing old, and looking back and looking forward,” says Leo.
“We had ‘grown up,'” adds Stinson. “We had some real things to say and put down in song. Songs about real life. To once again collaborate with this band was in line with what our original purpose was 32 years ago: To have fun and entertain ourselves, which in turn entertains others.”
Lee agrees: “We really wanted to do something positive. Something with a promise of better things to come. All revolving around love.”
Though separation and loss are stimuli for this collection, it emerges as a story of survival, a celebration of triumph—stunningly sustained through 11 compositions of gratitude, perseverance, and joy. The song “Big New Life” is a noteworthy gem in the mosaic shrine to Grace that is Big New Life.
The late, great Michael Rhodes played on these songs as a founding member of the Vinyl Kings until the day he died.
R.I.P. Renee LaRose Leo and Michael Rhodes.
Learn more about the Vinyl Kings https://vinylkingsband.com/
Writer and Editor
Following years as a reporter and editor of a handful of weekly newspapers, Dale McCurry was co-founder and publisher, writer and managing editor of High Notes Magazine on the Western Slope of Colorado and The Wires and the Wood in his native Ozarks. Today, he wears all of those hats for NoteWorthy Music as well.
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