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Lawrence County - The Frailty of Humans

  by Lisa Torem

published: 30 / 10 / 2020

Lawrence County - The Frailty of Humans
Label: Lawrence County
Format: CD


New album from Nottinhamshire-based sextet the Lawrence County is full of great vocal and instrumental solos and original ideas

“Our desire is to share with you our stories, our music…the folklore & sounds of our landscape, so that you can dance and…” Lawrence Country Band is a sextet of “troubadours” from Nottinghamshire UK, that boast a repertoire that includes the following genres: Americana, alt.country and folk. Their new album, ‘The Frailty of Humans’ is a rich, multi-faceted album which propels each player forward with grace and imagination. The album opens with ‘They’re All There,’ which features Pete Heron’s compelling double bass line and Bob Carlisle’s very cool beats. Martin Gallimore’s fiddle adds the perfect garnish, as he sneaks licks in between stanzas. Billy Kerry’s crisp electric guitar adds more spit and polish and Kristen Horner’s soprano is spot-on as a backing vocal, whilst Bill Kerry tells the story with a dynamic lead. The lyrics are unpretentious and relatable, too: “He’s outside smoking contraband.” The next song, ‘They’re All There’ pretty much centres around the related phrase, “They’re all in.” With the acoustic-driven, ‘Black Sally,’ Lawrence County depicts a moving story: “She lived alone/She wouldn’t marry.” It relies on a pretty much sing-song melody and simple phrasing: “She met a boy/He treated her well.” As time moves along, we become privy to some kind of secret as well. Kerry and Horner’s vocal parts are smooth and cheerful. Gallimore inserts a sprightly violin solo. The ending lyrics are predictable, yet poignant, but Gallimore’s outro. lifts our spirits right up again. ‘Liquor in the Corn’ is a rootsy, old-timey jam. “We drank the liquor in the cold” is an excellent starting point. The main vocals are packed with nuance and style. The swampy guitar, crawling bass and quirky chord responses are charming against shimmering guitar work. With well-crafted images such as: “The thunder ball hit the preacher man,” this song is an undeniable toe-tapper. In contrast, ‘By the Briar’ is mournful and comes off like a spiritual. The male/female duet is heartfelt and simmering, spiked with striking legato violin. ‘This is How We Do It in the Country’: In the prelude, the clunky banjo strumming is the most distinguishable characteristic. When the tempo shifts, the vocalists sing ab out “the blood on her dress” and then a four-bar violin solo dances around the plaintive melody. There’s lots of personality: “This is how we do it in the country, honey bee,” the refrain goes, many times over. Then again, “Was it just the whiskey coursing my veins? On ‘Dry Stone Walls’ the acoustic strings chug along like a hurried freight train. The violin solo is more melodic than on the previous cut; really gripping. The lead vocals are persuasive and the chorus is exceptionally easy to hum. ‘Lucy Wan’ is another female character study produced very simply and effectively. The main lyrical line in the chorus is difficult to make out, but the lengthy violin solo saves the day. On ‘The Loner,’ The intro to this Neil Young avatar features a grieving blues harp. As the title suggests, it’s about a lone wolf. In this case, the “loner” is a killer whose own life comes to a bitter end as well. The lyrics are simply stated: “They call him the loner/He lived in the woods,” which enables us to get into the mood that much more easily. ‘Bye Bye Americae’ may be the most intriguing and relevant song on the album. The fancy production includes bold voice-overs and brassy sound effects. With the name-checking of “apocalypse,” “white supremacy” and “a president with an orange face,” the theme is pretty straight-forward. ‘Goldfish in a Jar,’ is an innocent ballad with a strong sense of place and with a sincere, female lead vocal. This is the kind of story that recalls lazy summer days on a wraparound porch. “Going to the summer fair, we’ll meet our sweethearts there…” Need I say more? ‘Lights Go Out’ has an outstanding bass line as well as evocative vocals. The instrumental build-up with jazzy guitar and sweet violin conflates to make this a most memorable experience. ‘This is the End of it All,’ The guitar solo hearkens back to all-male instrumental groups like the Ventures. There’s a beautiful contrast between the male and female lead vocalists. This closer draws comparisons to early Jefferson Airplane with its exuberant ensemble energy. The bonus track, ‘I Don’t Sing Country Anymore’ is just plain fun. “My little dog just drowned, my truck broke down” is the reason the protagonist has given up the business. A rousing acoustic piano solo kicks off the other instruments. “Nashville ain’t what it used to be…”

Track Listing:-
1 They're All There
2 Black Sally
3 Liquor in the Corn
4 By the Briar
5 This Is How We Do It in the Country
6 Dry Stone Walls
7 Lucy Wan (Trad)
8 The Loner
9 Bye Bye Americae
10 Goldfish in a Jar
11 Lights Go Out
12 This Is the End of It All
13 I Don't Sing Country Anymore

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