|Lowlands - 'Beyond' (Stovepony Records)|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Friday, 01 February 2013 03:30|
Recorded over six days in Northern Italy, 'Beyond' is the 3rd full album from this Italian based roots rock band. Formed in Pavia, Italy by British born singer/songwriter Edward Abbiati, they combine the traditional folk sounds of piano, accordian, banjo and harmonica with acoustic and electric guitars. Since 2008 they have released a total of six albums including a tribute album to Woody Guthrie earlier in 2012. Their eclectic, folk inspired sound is captured here on their latest album by Soul Asylum keyboard player Joey Huffman at the helm for production duties and he also contributes a bit of mean Hammond organ too for good measure.
Opening in cracking style with the raucous punk rock feel of 'Angel Visions', a gloriously upbeat 1 minute and 30 seconds blast of energy, it sets the scene for 10 tracks in just under 40 minutes that combine the energy of The Pogues and The Levellers with the songwriting suss and feel of the likes of Springsteen and Dylan.
'Hail Hail' is the first of several songs that carry that Soul Asylum stamp of approval all over them, a classic anthemic feel resonates throughout this track. It's like a musical stimulant that's guaranteed to leave you feeling happy all day long. The upbeat, countrified sing-a-longs continue with 'Lovers & Thieves', Abbiati's raspy tones really hitting home nicely here, three songs in and there is enough so far to convince me that this is sure gonna be a good album.
The acoustic led 'Ashes' and 'Waltz In Time' have a definite Levellers vibe to them and in different ways, the fiddles and the rumbling bass especially in the latter, Abbiati here even sounding much like Levellers main man Mark Chadwick at times.
The beautiful acoustic and heartfelt 'Homeward Bound' with its tasty slide work nods its head heavily towards Nebraska-era Springsteen which is never a bad thing in my book. It's a great example of these very personal and passionate songs written by a man who has seemingly been on a journey of self discovery the past few years.
'Down On New Street' is the sort of anthemic stadium filler that anyone from Springsteen to Soul Asylum to even Jesse Malin seem to knock out at will and it's up there with those artists. Timeless music for people with love in their hearts, dreams in their heads and a passionate soul.
'Beyond' seems to be the sound of a well travelled band who have played anywhere from pavements and bars to castles, churches and jails. It is the soundtrack to this journey, documenting the highs and lows, tales from the road and the daily experiences that only a travelling band can have the insight to share. Whether it be acoustic balladry or a bit of feel good punky tinged folk there is much to soak up.
This is an album that makes me want to crack open a bottle of red wine (which I did) and sit by a crackling open fire (which sadly I couldn't), lay back and soak up the sounds for the evening, which I promptly did and I recommend whole-heartedly you do too. At the end of the day Lowlands write good, good music and that's all you really need to know because that's what it's all about really.