The Reckoning Wheels is the musical brainchild of John Ehlers. Ehlers says “I write and record in a 1970s/1980s rock and pop tradition adapted to today. I take inspiration from those superhuman songwriters like Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen seeking to offer something that listeners may be drawn to in lyrics, story, melodic and harmonic surprises.”
I heard some of what he’s referring to on his recent single called “Carnival Town (feat. Jessica Wagner).” The single features an all star cast consisting of Jessica Wagner (Chic, Kid Rock, Stevie Van Zandt and Duran Duran) on vocals, Adam Rossi on keyboards, Gunnar Olsen (Bruce Springsteen, Miley Cyrus, Miike Snow) on drums, John Ehlers on guitars, John Heinrich (Hank Williams Jr., Travis Tritt, Shania Twain) on saxophone and Tom Ring on bass guitar.
The song starts with some fantastic sax, organ, drums and more. I have to admit the sax really did give me an ’80s feeling. Wagner has very soulful vocals and I was hooked in about ten seconds. On the verse the organ has an earthy and warm tone. The drums sound crisp but also really warm. I thought the sax was pretty far back there in the mix but it works out well. The bass really has some killer grooves. Ring is all over the neck of the instrument.
One thing I noticed is that the song doesn't have a conventional and pronounced hook. There’s this stream of consciousness from Wagner which was interesting and kept me engaged. About halfway through there’s a killer breakdown. The sax feels like the lead but everything comes together in a fluid way. Towards the end of the song, Wagner belts it out and reminds me of Janis Joplin.
Wow - what a song. I think only the most hardcore of cynics won’t appreciate this song. I loved it. It’s emotional, very well produced and the performances are stellar. I enjoyed this so much I’m going to check out some of the back catalog for The Reckoning Wheels.