Light flickers in even the darkest of spaces and smallest cracks. Similarly, The Empty Pockets ignite a bright flame of their own by harnessing a joyful friction between Americana, folk, and rock ‘n’ roll spiked with roots soul. The Chicago quartet—Josh Solomon [guitar, vocals], Erika Brett [keyboards, vocals], Nate Bellon [bass, vocals], and Adam Balasco [drums]—lean on an unspoken, yet airtight musical dialogue honed by countless miles on the road, performances alongside the likes of Kenny Loggins, a procession of fan favorite releases (including a #1 debut), and a wealth of memories together.
However, the musicians shine brighter than ever on their 2023 independent full-length LP, Gotta Find The Moon.
“Gotta Find The Moon means, ‘There’s no time, but today’,” explains Josh. “We can’t wait for the daylight in the morning. We have to find the light now in the darkness. The world is so messed up. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for someone else to fix it; we all have to do our little part.”
The Empty Pockets continue to pave a path of their own. They’ve honed their signature style across albums such as The Ten Cent Tour , Voices , Snow Day , Tanglewoods , and Live In Seattle . After bowing in the Top 10 of the Heatseekers Albums Chart and Americana/Folk Chart, they delivered their first #1 when Outside Spectrum toppled the Billboard Blues Albums Chart in 2022. Along the way, they not only backed the likes of Al Stewart, Gary Wright, and Simon Kirke (with whom they made a record with to boot), but they also appeared on PBS Soundstage with Loggins. During 2022, Pollstar touted them among its Top International Livestreamers. Touching down on multiple continents, they’ve supported comedy legend George Lopez, alternative phenomenon Portugal. The Man, and many more.
Gotta Find The Moon saw them progress yet again. This time around, they recorded in one room together with minimal overdubs. “It was pretty magical to share the same space and continue to read each other and create,” recalls Erika.
“Even though it’s a digital album, it’s quite old-fashioned,” agrees Josh.
Speaking of, they tracked the majority of the LP at Abbey Road Studios in London. With a handful of days off during a UK run, they absorbed the spirit of this hallowed ground.
“In general, traveling the world to play music is amazing, but Abbey Road was the best day ever,” beams Josh.
“It truly brought out the best in us,” Erika goes on. “When I listen back to those sessions, I can feel the energy in the room. It was special.”
They initially heralded the album with the title track “Gotta Find The Moon.” Josh and Erika lock into a hypnotic harmony in the glow of warm keys and a buoyant riff. The single “Make It Through” trumpets an uplifting reminder through a chantable chorus, “I’ll be alright—with you.” The groove gives way to a hummable guitar solo punctuated by a bluesy twang and a rock ‘n’ roll wail.
“Like a lot of people, I lost both of my grandparents during the pandemic,” says Josh. “For the song, I added some Easter Eggs in tribute to them. I say my grandma’s name, Helen. My grandfather was a federal highway engineer who did research to confirm we needed a dotted white line on the road and decided the signs should be green. The first line shouts him out, ‘The green signs are going to lead us’.”
“If the last few years taught us anything, it’s as long as we’re together, we’ll be okay,” Erika states.
Stretching past the six-minute mark, The Empty Pockets host a guitar masterclass on their nuanced and reverent cover of Eric Clapton’s “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.” With Packy Lundholm (of Vulfpeck's Theo Katzman) and Dani Rabin (of gypsy jazz band Marbin) on guitars, it artfully highlights the group’s musicality. Meanwhile, they infuse Fairport Convention’s “Meet Me On The Ledge” with their fluid and fiery interplay. The genesis of “Daylight” could notably be traced back to a Barack Obama speech. “You’ve got to fight for what’s right,” Josh continues. “It’s more relevant now since the country has changed so much, but we can’t give up.”
A jazz guitar line courtesy of Packy adds a kick to “Sour Lime,” while “Shocked By An Electrician” buzzes with no shortage of puns or virtuosity. Then, there’s the tender “Name In A Song,” which unfolds as a letter from husband to wife accented by nylon guitar from Peter
White [Al Stewart] “I’ve written at least 20 songs about Erika, but I never put her name in any of them,” Josh admits. “It’s dedicated to her—and any other Erika who hasn’t gotten a song.”
“There’s no other song with my name in it except ‘Mambo Number 5’,” she laughs. “It was about time!”
Whether you spin one of their albums or catch a show, The Empty Pockets will gladly share their light with you.
“We just love to play and make music,” Erika sums it up. “We need each other and, hopefully, a room full of people to connect with.”