Eminence Ensemble unveils new LP Inside Looking Out

Article Contributed by JSloane Creative | Published on Thursday, March 14, 2024

Denver-based six-piece jam outfit Eminence Ensemble is a band of dualities.

Founded in Boulder by childhood friends Justin Neely (guitar/vocals), Nick Baum (vocals/percussion), Zac Flynn (bass/synth), and Tanner Bardin (drums), the group has become a live Denver-staple, playing Mission Ballroom, Cervantes, The Fillmore, and The Ogden a combined 15+ times. They’re also an experienced studio project, endearing themselves to audiences through a vivid, chemistry-rich sound that combines free-flowing, virtuosic jam sensibilities with complex song structures, euphoric vocal harmonies, and vibrant electronic elements.

This stylistic blend has ultimately led to over 400 shows over the band’s career, including sets at Summer Camp Music Festival, Electric Forest, Burning Man, Gem & Jam, Same Same But Different, Wavespell, Camp Bisco, and many others. The group is also coming off an impressive 2023, which included performances with Scott Page (Pink Floyd), as well as a sit-in with Umphrey’s McGee by Eminence Ensemble drummer Tanner Bardin.

Contrasts exist within the band’s membership as well, which consists of both lifelong friends and recent additions.

During the pandemic, the band was looking for new members, but they weren’t looking for just any musician - they needed individuals who understood their vision and naturally melded with their group dynamic. This led to the absorption of Dylan Gleit (vocals/guitar/production/mixing, following his stint as the Emmy-award-winning audio engineer for Mr. Robot) and Will Snyder (a virtuosic Kansas City jazz pianist) - two prodigious players who fit seamlessly into Eminence Ensemble’s pre-existing structure.

Today, Eminence Ensemble unveil their newest LP, Inside Looking Out - an album that acutely reflects the band’s revamped identity. With new creative perspectives meshing with older stylistic tendencies, Inside Looking Out adds captivating wrinkles into the band’s formula while retaining the core traits that makes them such a distinct voice in the jam world.

Thematically, Inside Looking Out continues the band’s dueling nature, representing a time capsule of the lockdown era when people were isolated in their homes forced to look out at the world. This surface image is then filtered through the album’s central messaging - a thread of ruminations on everything from the minute details of daily life, to the changing structures of the music industry, society, and the world at large. From the interiority of the Eminence Ensemble project, the band uses music to analyze the revolving world around them - a grand exploration wrapped in galactic, psychedelic, and often very optimistic sonic atmospheres.

Aesthetically, Eminence Ensembles juxtaposes their jam lineage with tight pop sensibilities. Filled to the brim with infectious hooks and vibrant arrangements, the LP showcases the band’s typical instrumental mastery and unique, vocal-forward approach while elevating their sonic presentation to new levels of immersion and grandiosity - a result of a group finally at full strength and in total control of their creative powers.

Listeners got their first taste of Inside Looking Out with the singles “Flipside”, “Already There,” and “Believe It,” - three songs that exemplify the band’s ability to shift between funk, rock, and piano balladry with epic instrumental panache.

The rest of the album’s tracklist contains a similarly masterful grasp on creating genre-traversing, lavish musical experiences. The album kicks off with “Downtime,” a sumptuous journey that combines sweeping vocal passages with intricately arranged instrumental elements. Fun, loose, yet packed with different musical flavors and textures, “Downtime” oscillates between its cathartic chorus, fast-paced guitar harmonies, and reggae rhythms with ease.

Next is “Moonshine,” a swagger-filled, blues-inflected cut that blends its dancey grooves and syncopated vocal melodies into a sun-tinged romp. Then there’s “5th Of July,” a space-rock odyssey that implements precise vocal layering and harmonic arrangements to create an appropriately extraterrestrial vibe.

Later in the tracklist is “Love In An Instant,” a romantic song that intermingles 70s-rock inspirations with a soulful R&B stylistic twist. Filled with a blazing horn section that perfectly complements its sultry instrumental palette and melodies, “Love In An Instant” contributes to the album’s overall dynamic range.

After that is “Gettin’ Old,” a nostalgic cut that uses its acoustic guitar chord progressions, bittersweet, catchy vocal melodies, and spacious piano and electric guitar layers to invoke a heart-tugging but ultimately uplifting tone.

Inside Looking Out is then rounded out by “Somehow” and “Here,” two tracks that close out the LP’s sonic journey in emotionally fulfilling fashion. The former track is a soaring cut that transitions its euphoric vocal melodies into a nearly three-minute instrumental section filled with precise guitar playing, Latin rhythm, and driving persuasive elements; the latter is a brief outro blending field recordings with twangy acoustic guitar, tying a neat bow onto the thrilling inside Looking Out listening road trip.

Eminence Ensemble will be playing tracks off of Inside Looking Out tracks throughout their upcoming tour, which includes dates with the renowned jazz-fusion outfit The Motet for a string of support performances.

Eminence Ensemble tour dates

3/16/24: Estes Park, CO - Frozen Dead Guy Days

5/8/24: Fayetteville, AR - George’s Majestic Lounge (w/ The Motet)

5/9/24: Oklahoma City, OK - Beer City Music Hall (w/ The Motet)

5/10/24: Dallas, TX - Deep Ellum Art Company (w/ The Motet)

5/11/24: Austin, TX - Empire Control Room & Garage (w/ The Motet)

5/12/24: Houston, TX - Last Concert Cafe (w/ The Motet)

8/8/24: Bond, CO - Beanstalk Festival

8/16/24 - 8/17/24: Alma, CO - Elevation Festival