The dusty, dreamy rock and roll of Jeff Crosby and the Refugees isn't dismissible or fluffy, although the Americana-rooted songs could as easily fit into a glowing '90s alt-rock radio lineup as a dingy, sticky-floored dive bar. The Springsteen-esque songs delve deeply into the core of personal turmoil, blue-collar lifestyles and nomadic tendencies. From the hollowness of the city and drinking until you can't feel to running away from personal demons, unsustainable relationships, cold winters and voyeuristic loneliness.
"I like the storytelling aspect of music and that's the thing I've really tried to focus on," explained Crosby, who resembles an Americana Muppet under a mop of wavy blonde hair with a baritone voice that is as soothing as it is deep and rocky. "That's almost to our disadvantage. A lot of our songs get really personal or I focus on the aspects of life that might not be what you want to listen to when you're out with your friends."
Crosby and the Refugees' newest album, All Nighter, released on July 4 of this year, tugs at heartstrings and rolls the bones in equal measure. Crosby's expansive guitar licks and bellowing velvety vocals resemble the always-living doctorate of the American dream. With influences like The Black Crows, Aerosmith and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which Crosby calls "good American rock and roll," and a clean pop-production style, Crosby straddles the line between his Idaho roots and his new home in Southern California, and all the winding roads between.
"I was living in L.A. when I wrote it and I think it has that SoCal tinge," said Crosby of All Nighter. "I was really trying to get into the mind frame of being down there. There are all the reasons you wouldn't like it there, you're in the middle of this mecca and the freeway's insane all the time, but it's kind of awesome once you step outside of it. I was looking down on myself, 26 years old in Southern California. What an exciting record to write."
Taking a step away from the pastoral writing style that Idaho fosters, Crosby takes on a more urban voice in the new album, one that grapples with coming-of-age roadblocks spanning family, women, loneliness and death.
"When I'm out in the country I'm writing about the influences that tend to be there. Thinking, dreaming and walking through the woods," said Crosby. "The city has so much stimulation. I wrote hundreds of songs when I got there. You walk outside and there's a homeless guy who has pissed himself on your doorstep and all the sudden you're writing a song about him, or how can people walk by this person ignoring him."
Jeff Crosby and the Refugees
8 pm. Thurs., Aug. 28
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr.