Friday, February 7, 2014

Levi Lowrey & Friends Fire Up an Awesome CD

Levi Lowrey first crossed our radar a few years back, when he replaced Bryan Simpson for a short stint with Cadillac Sky. Yes, that period was short, but Lowrey says it was not only beneficial to his career, "but it was even better for my personal life. I made lifelong friends during that time." Once Cadillac Sky diss-banded, Lowrey returned to songwriting -- at times collaborating with Zac Brown and Clay Cook.

With all this material, he recently spent two weeks at the Southern Ground Studios in Nashville recording and collaborating with a stellar set of musicians including Cook, fiddler Ross Holmes (Mumford & Sons/Cadillac Sky), Oliver Wood (The Wood Brothers), and the acclaimed Mac McAnally. Even former Cadillac Sky members Matt Menefe and Bryan Simpson joined the party. Add in Zac Brown acting as the executive producer along with co-producers Matt Mangano and Cook and that's a nice pedigree for a final product.  The self titled album official release date is February 25th but I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy. 

I've been listening for a couple weeks now and one of the beauties of this album is how diverse each song sounds. Lowrey responds that "Every song has a different personality. I don't like to get in the way. My band and I like to let the songs go where they want to go." The diversity is not only the songwriting but the style - rock, country, blues, gospel, bluegrass - bits and pieces of each genre are well represented.  And there's power and purpose to the music - it makes ya think.

The opening track, Picket Fences (makes a solid defense when you just want to go back home), is a rhythmic rockn' song with jammin' guitar solos. The rest of the album is Lowrey laying out his soul. Everyone who's had a bad year - or two - can relate to December Thirty-One (It's been a long year) and as a parent of a boy - Trying Not To Die - hits home. That Is All is a rootsy blues number with a powerful finish, sandwiched between two ballads that feature Lowrey's steady vocals. Want some alternative gospel? I've Held The Devil's Hand. The most powerful song is Urge for Leaving - a biographical tale on the hurdles of having basically three parents - just listen.  And keep listening to the end as the album finishes with a wonderful ballad in What She Don't Know, my new anthem, Barely Getting By, and some flying fiddles and guitar in Flywheel and more rock n' roll in War Pigs. This is a awesome album period, and for someone like me that enjoys all genres of music - much appreciated.

Lowrey has a several tours scheduled this year in support of the album, starting with a stint opening for the Zac Brown Band and a CD release party at one of his favorite venues the Red Clay Theatre in Duluth, GA on the 25th. Then in April his calendar has aligned with Clay's for a CLAY vs. LEVI: ROUND 2 tour where "We will both walk out on that stage. But only one of us will walk out with the title. You know what I'm talkin' about, Mean Gene!!?". Yes I do Hulk Hogan and I'm looking forward to the match on April 9th at Jammin Java. And while listening, Lowrey recommends pairing with Nashville's Yazoo Brewing Company, in particular, their Gerst Amber Ale -"At least, it was used in the recording process." Cheers.

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