As I discovered when trying to research this band prior to Midwintefest 2019, they have a very low internet profile, a couple of YouTube videos but little else to suggest how good this band might be. Having then seen them in the flesh turn in two quite outstanding sets, the only question remaining was would they be able to transfer that vibrancy and musicality into a recording that retains that vitality - the answer is a resounding "Yes - and then some more". Their music is not available on any digital platforms as of yet and so this cd is presumably only selling at gigs and by word of mouth - so let's see if we can add to that a bit!!
If there is one disappointment on this record and it is only a small one it is that the opening track "Where's All My Money Gone?" is the only band composed song. Combining universal timeless problems such as where cash disappears to with a distinctly British set of lyrics over a jazzy bluegrass backing seem an inspired combination that we'd like to see more of.
The rest may be covers or traditional songs but The Lowly Strung have impeccable taste and in general I more often than not find myself drawn to their version. Take "Sweet Amarillo" the Bob Dylan song perhaps best known for its Old Crow Medicine Show cover, even if it is guys from Kent singing about a cowgirl! The is another OCMS song in the shape of the frankly bizarre but huge fun of "8 Dogs 8 Banjos" which forms a major audience participation part in their live set. As a band they have lovely blend of musicianship with the fiddle, mandolin and dobro high in the mix that all go to make this such a successful record.
The real gem on this album occurs when things slow down a little, "Louisiana 1927" is a Randy Newman song, there have been a number of previous covers from the likes Aaron Neville and Martin Simpson but this one really seems to sit best with the lyrics, and the instrumentation does not get to syrupy which is the trap that a lot of versions seem to fall into. I'm sure Randy would approve and this track alone is worth buying the cd for. Covers of Wood & Wire songs "Greener Grass" and "Anne Marie" both match the originals, the latter being as infectious 3 minutes 40 that you'll hear all year.
This record has somewhat flown under the radar but it definitely deserves its day in the sun!!