Keyboards open the third track, the contemplative “A Better Place”. As Gee sings, I’m immediately reminded of Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. The music sounds very 60s, with its sassy horn solo. This is another song about breaking up, though it’s not as friendly and folk-oriented as “By Your Leave” is. The lyrics seem to be more of a kiss off than a gentle adieu.

A cover of Donovan Leitch’s “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” comes next. The Cherry Bluestorms’ arrangement features horns prominently, along with Laughlin’s arresting guitar and thumping percussion. I have to admit that I was not familiar with Donovan’s original version of this song. I had to listen to it just to compare. I’m pleased to report that The Cherry Bluestorms have definitely made this song their own.

“A True Heart Wears a Thorny Crown” features Laughlin singing lead and Gee singing harmony. This song features swirling guitars, edgy organ, and jaunty tambourine beat. I hear a little of The Beatles and Oasis. It’s hard to stop myself from nodding along with the beat.

“Sunday Driving South” immediately reminds me of The Beatles, with its dreamy Mellotron opening. The lyrics are whimsical and poetic, psychedelic and imaginative. With lyrics like “Happy birthday to the moon/ A silver candelabra lights your room.”, I easily picture the scene that inspired those vivid words. Melodically, I recall “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles, which had similarly evocative lyrics.

Although Bad Penny Opera is definitely hip enough for this decade, it will also appeal to fans of music from the 1960s. Gee and Laughlin have done a great job of marrying the styles into something that is all theirs. I’m impressed by the creative arrangements of the thirteen songs on this album. I always appreciate artists who write and perform their own music and Bad Penny Opera is rich with original material. This is an album that will appeal to artists and dreamers who enjoy hearing new things, yet are comforted by the familiar.

Out of five stars, I’d give Bad Penny Opera a solid 4.5. Be sure to check out The Cherry Bluestorms’ channel on YouTube for videos of live performances!