Patrolled by Radar’s Be Happy is an album of original songs penned by singer-songwriter Jay Souza. The ten tracks on Be Happy tell stories that could have taken place at any point during the last two centuries, as sung by troubadours such as Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Ray Davies or Townes Van Zandt. Be Happy is the band’s debut CD on Knitting Factory Records through RED Distribution, set for worldwide release on June 7, 2011.
Souza has been carrying around these songs inside his heart since he was a kid. His inspiration came from his mom, who sent him three cassettes that he played incessantly as a child — Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and the Carpenters. Years later, his attention to craft can be heard throughout Be Happy, which will be released under the name Patrolled by Radar because Souza got tired of his band 50 Cent Haircut getting confused with rapper 50 Cent.
Knitting Factory CEO Morgan Margolis was so impressed with the band’s yearlong residency at the Hollywood club that he offered to both manage them and release the album on his label. It’s a story that could have come straight from one of Souza’s own songs, based on real life.
“The whole record was meant to be like that,” says Souza. “I wanted it to be rich in melody, dynamism and nuance. I’ll rewrite the words over and over until the allusion is just right. I try to make it less literal and more poetic. There’s always a better way to say something.”
The Boston-born singer-songwriter — whose great-great-grandfather was first cousin to Irish poet William Butler Yeats — has lived in L.A. since 1990. He continues to exhibit the qualities of his mentors in his music, first in his band 50 Cent Haircut, and now alongside the same musicians in Patrolled by Radar (guitarists Bosco Sheff and Bryan “BC” Coulter and bassist Bryan “Reno” Stone), with a timeless, narrative style that takes its cue from classic Americana roots: equal parts folk, rock, country, blues and soul.
The band’s music is featured as the closing song in two of the three MGM/Sony Walking Tall movies. Two of the tracks on Be Happy can be heard on the TNT show Men of a Certain Age, where they were placed by GO Music Services supervisor Gary Calamar who noted of Be Happy, “Wowza for Jay Souza. [Patrolled by Radar] is a great band with terrific songs. Bang and twang!”
Be Happy is a rather ironic title, given some of the grim stories Souza recounts in “Dressed for the Drought,” “Coat of Disappointment,” and “Fast Life Slow Death.” His honesty and sincerity is self-evident on the album’s “Carried Away,” written from the point of view of a soldier serving in the Middle East:
“I know it’s all the same to you/Everybody’s lookin’ for the thing they were meant to do/I’ll sit and sing a lonesome song.”
Elsewhere, Souza and Patrolled by Radar show themselves equally capable of creating the lush pop choruses of the Beatlesque title track, the slinky sexual double entendre rockabilly blues in “Walking” (“The first verse is about Adolf Hitler and the second, Johnny Cash,” he explains), the whimsical psychedelic folk of the Babar the Elephant-inspired “Pachyderm,” or even full-throttle rock ’n’ roll, which comes across loud and clear in the anthemic (and aptly named) “New Fight Song.”
“I see people having a hard time. It’s a strange time we’re in. The haves and have-nots are being drawn together in a way that’s weird,” Souza clarifies, though he’s finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
Be Happy track listing
1. Widow Next Door
2. New Fight Song
3. Dressed for the Drought
5. Coat of Disappointment
6. Fast Life, Slow Death
8. Carried Away
9. Be Happy
PATROLLED BY RADAR on tour
Wed., Apr. 13 LOS ANGELES, CA The Mint w/ The Band Of Heathens
Sat., Apr. 23 LOS ANGELES, CA Farmers Market Ranch Party
Sat., Apr. 30 CULVER CITY, CA Cinema Bar
Fri., May 6 BROOKLYN, NY Knitting Factory (Brooklyn) w/ Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs
Sun., May 15 LOS ANGELES, CA Satellite (Silver Lake)
Fri., May 20 LOS ANGELES, CA Villains Tavern
Sun., Jun 12 LOS ANGELES, CA The Echo - Grand Ole Echo