I’ve only seen Cordovas play live once. It was one of those rare nights in the UK (we get them about twice a year) in early July when the weather is perfect. The show that night encapsulated the mood.

There’s something of that in the work of Joe Firstman and his partner in crime, Lucca Soria. There’s something of the sound of two worlds – if not colliding – then blending.

From a farm in Nashville to a town in LA, the pair (and the revolving cast that join them) create music that is best described by a line on the brilliant “Sunshine.” “I’m happy just because,” sings Firstman. And “The Rose Of Aces” is that record. Laid back, blissed out, and hopeful.

Exquisitely done too, as the opener “Fallen Angels Of Rock N Roll” proves. They know their history, and they know their musical bloodline. “I know all the roads from Memphis to Muscle Shoals,” sings Firstman, and in so doing, that’s all the sound. That’s the Cordovas. And when they ask the question, “How many times did music save your soul?” They already know the answer.

They are a magnificent rock ‘n’ soul band. How else do you describe the harmonies of “What Is Wrong?” Nothing, really, when music this gorgeous exists.

“High Roller” beats with a country heart. But it is shot through with sunlight; you can imagine Gram Parsons looking on with pride.

“Sky, Land And Sea” is as gentle as it is beautiful, and “Deep River” offers this: “Deep sorrow, let’s forget it till tomorrow.” How you spend the night is up to you.

The piano-led “Stone Cold Stoned” makes it clear, and “Change The Way You Talk” is – like many on the collection – in a reflective mood.

And like the entire album, “Last To Know” with its fiddle sounding perfect (and it is a fact that the like-minded individuals that make up the band have a seemingly instinctive gift for making the record find the right tone) is both original and classic sounding.

There’s a sort of natural funk about “Skyline,” like it was made in Laurel Canyon in about 1969, and even the more energetic shuffle of “Love Is All It Takes” has a kind of bell-bottomed vibe, like it’s on Old Grey Whistle Test, and the California air is all over the Latin Flavours of “Somos Iguales,” which features La Marisoul.

That translates to “We Are Equal,” and that perhaps speaks to the collaboration on this album? How we are better together?

Joe Firstman has been many things, from the boy most likely to a major label star. He’s been churned up by the industry and come out the other side (via a stint on TV).

Now older, wiser, and more mature, it feels like everything he’s done has been for a reason, and that reason is this record.

A heartbeat away from being a freewheeling, Grateful Dead-style jam, “The Rose Of Aces” is instead 35 minutes of short, laid-back utter beauty.

Rating: 9.5/10

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