THE FRAILTY OF HUMANS
Americana Meets English Folk-Rock in a Country Tavern.
If ever there was an apt record title for ‘our times’ then, it’s The Frailty of Humans.
This album though; was conceived and recorded many moons ago; when Corona was a bottle lager and not the Plague!
Lawrence County is the new nom de plume for the magnificent but cumbersome DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show, who still hail from the Bagthorpe Delta on the Nott’s Leicestershire border in Middle England.
To some degree, this is a tale of ‘new name’ and ‘new sound’ although the ‘new sound’ is actually a well honed and crafted move on from what they have been doing for several years now.
Opening track They’re All There treads a very fine line between 70’s Folk Rock and 00’s Alt. Country; with a punchy beat and an articulate story littered with the band’s trade marked ‘play on words’.
Sadly, I can’t remember who’s who in this ensemble and their website and the accompanying flyer doesn’t help; but it’s apparent that the vocals (and harmonies ) are shared around to great effect; especially on the windswept Liquor in The Corn and Lights Go Out; with both sounding like they could and should have been recorded and released by a band from Oklahoma or Colorado; not a bunch of reprobates from the Heart of England.
But that’s the joy of Americana music; isn’t it? In many ways it romanticises an America that may not exist in 2020; if it ever really existed at all ….. but the music very much does exist.
While not exactly romanticising America; the insightful single Bye Bye Americae is obviously written ‘from the heart’ but obviously from afar; and hopefully natives of that mysterious land across the ocean will hear it and think, ‘that is spot on …… thank you’.
If there’s a theme behind the album’s title; ‘The Frailty of Humans’ seems to come across in the hauntingly beautiful The Loner, which must have been written after overdosing on The Freewheeling Bob Dylan and Solid Air by John Martyn; and it’s a similar sensation This is The End of It All; when the tempo builds and builds as the male and female voices intertwine and a shimmering violin soars above a very intense guitar/bass/drums.
While there’s plenty of sadness here; in I Don’t Sing Country Anymore awe find a glorious straight up Country song which will have audiences not just tapping their toes; but miming the chorus too.
With so much to choose from it’s not been easy to choose a Favourite Song; but there are two that I keep getting drawn back to; the rustic charm of This is How We Do It In This Country `is staggering for a part-time band; and the other, Lights Go Out sounds like tattered velvet, if such a thing was musical.
There really, really is a whole lot to like here; with exceptional storytelling alongside the stories themselves; but first and foremost is the way the production allows each instrument and voice to stand apart; while also coming together to create a rather majestic and genre defying musical experience.