Navigation in Full Swing

Glory Glory (Velour)
The Navigators

By John Bohannon

It's a snowy, bitter evening in the middle of January and you are walking down the path of a sidewalk contemplating life and the context within. The snow beats down on the back of your lowered head as you continue to walk the silent streets. This is the exact situation I picture myself in when listening to the opening track of Glory Glory, The Navigators' new album (but apparently they shot a video for this at Coney Island; polar opposites, if you will). Louisvillian Dewey Kincade formed this roots-based group when he headed up to NYC chasing a theatrical hopeless of a girlfriend. With different influences coming from different places, the Navigators flow perfectly through roots-based rock, free-form material, and influential folk numbers.

After scoring airtime on WFPK after his solo release in 2000, musically, things have been going uphill for Kincade (although struggles in NYC left this man broke). Since the beginning of his career there has been a constant upward curve toward greater things and bigger possibilities, such as playing with the Navigators.

Gigs at the South by Southwest festival in Austin and signing with the label Velour (Kaki King, Soulive) have pushed the Navs out in to the public eye. From all the artists that have been heard over that past couple years, it doesn't seem there could be anyone more deserving of a shot, and chances are that shot will be utilized.

Vocal range is no obstacle for Kincade, for he can pull off anything from a melodic ballad to a Dylan-era folk tune. But in all honesty, this man has created his own sound with no comparisons to show, and a style with heavy influences flowing straight from his soul. Nothing the band creates is overdone, but maintains a simple approach. It gives you a sense of familiarity, but never leaves you hanging.

These six tracks shine for a rather intriguing 25 minutes of music (allow an extra five minutes to soak in the gloriousness that you just heard). A folk introspective tune shines in its simplicity and wittiness ("One Line Epitaph") while a clear-cut guitar riff that could've been pulled from Bruce Springsteen's personal stash accompanies a vocal mix that could've been attributed to Bono and Prince at the same time ("I See You Clearly").

Kincade's vocals intertwine with the drowning sounds of steel lap and harmonica in an acoustic folk ballad called "The River", while bass player Andrew Emer's jazz background excels in the free-form groove "Blackout."

Two hundred and fifty songs and four years later, it seems as if the Navigators are finally allowing Kincade his chance. "Don't sum me up to a one line epitaph," warn lyrics from the opening track. Heed those words, for the Navigators have much more to say and a whole lot more to prove.