In the late 1960s, a large group of both amateur and professional musicians, singers, and songwriters began to pour into the Laurel Canyon area of California, which lies in the Hollywood hills. Musicians from all walks of life would join together on porches and in living rooms to jam, forming a musical community that began to develop its own distinctive sound.
In 1968, Carole King, a Brill Building songwriter who had written dozens of hits such as “The Locomotion” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” was one such musician who drifted out of the gritty New York and moved to the sunny Laurel Canyon. King had recently divorced her long time songwriting partner and husband Gerry Goffin and brought her two daughters with her to Los Angeles. Through various jam sessions at neighbor’s houses, King met and began to collaborate with guitarist Daniel Kortchmar and bassist Charles Larkey, forming a band known as “The City.” Shortly after forming the band, The City signed with Ode Records and started to work on their first and only album Now That Everything’s Been Said with producer Lou Adler behind the boards.
So, with that information in mind, let’s discuss the album itself. First and foremost, “Now That Everything’s Been Said” is a great record, successfully blending multiple genres while also keeping a coherent theme. While I am hesitant to call it a “concept album,” Now That Everything’s Been Said feels like one, continuous journey through the lonely and confined streets of Los Angeles on side one and into Laurel Canyon on side two.
Though the album never charted, it contains all the proper and professional elements to become a hit LA record; lush harmonies, echo-heavy vocals, and a “large” sound are present on almost every song throughout the album; however, the record doesn’t feel as cheesy or flowery as records by other California acts such as Sonny and Cher. There’s a greater sense of seriousness that King’s songs bring to this particular record. The combination of the “Los Angeles sound” and King’s lyrics creates an interesting juxtaposition on both sides of the album.
The album opens with the jazz-pop “Snow Queen,” which displays the musicianship of all three band members as well as the session drummer Jim Gordon, who would later go on to work with Frank Zappa. From the opening track, “The City” develops a lyrical and musical theme that is further developed as the album continues. While the music shines with “sunny” Los Angeles pop and folk-rock, the lyrics focus on those who are without a purpose in life, desolate, or trying to find a way out.
Songs such as “Paradise Alley” and “Victim of Circumstance” are about people trying to find a way out of the city or the situation that they are in, hoping that there will be some way for them to escape their loneliness. The music, however, is bright and cheerful, highlighted by King’s upbeat piano playing and the vocals of both Kortchmar and King.
The song that stands out the most is the title track, “Now That Everything’s Been Said.” This particular song seems the most self-referential and embodies the sound that characterizes the entire album. In this song, King brings a certain emotional force to the vocals, making it seem like she is actually living what she sings about, which is entirely possible. While King sings in such a somber tone, the instruments play a different tune; a tune of a hopeful and better future.
Side two is characterized by a much freer, looser sound that seems to symbolize the community in Laurel Canyon. While the first two cuts on side two, “Why Are You Leaving” and “Lady,” hark back to the previous side’s sense of solitude, it’s as if the narrator is seeing Los Angeles in their rearview mirror as they drive away.
With “My Sweet Home,” The City produces a much different style of music, a sound that is much more folk and blues-esque rather than Los Angeles pop. From this song to the end of the album, the band plays as if they are in a living room testing out songs and playing for fun. The best example is “That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho),” which sounds almost like a drunken bar tune.
While King would later go on to much greater heights with Tapestry, Now That Everything’s Been Said is vastly underrated and unheard in her catalog. The musical and lyrical ability of The City makes this particular album one that I’ll be spinning time and time again.
I give The City’s Now That Everything’s Been Said a rating of 8.5/10
Thank you for reading my first album review and discussion. If you have any album recommendations, questions, or comments, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review written by: George LaBour