The Lost Notes
Lowlifes and High Times
West Coast Americana Straight Outta the English Midlands.
Five piece band, The Lost Notes hail from deepest Moseley in Birmingham, England; but judging from the harmonies and song structures on this, their second release, their hearts are torn between home and the Western and Southern states of America.
Opener “Pieces of a Star” sets the musical tone with twinkling guitar and high register harmonies that Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fans will lap up. “Holding on” then continues the West-Coast flavour with its pastoral imagery, shifting tempos and a very catchy melody, so much so you can almost smell the patchouli!
“All Born Free” with its “ba-ba-ba-da” Mary Travers-esque vocals sounds like it’s emerged from some lost 60’s vault of Laurel Canyon outtakes – glorious summery music, with some superb latin-flavoured guitar too. Things move into waltz time with “A Fool Once Told Me” which lyrically is less generic than the opening tracks and all the better for it, with some great quirky hat imagery (yes, really!) and nice melodic minor shifts too. There’s more jazzy Spanish guitar on “Done With the Waiting,” which marks the Lost Notes as musical soulmates of Californians Mapache.
“Still I Come” starts off with a brushed train beat and a gentle Country twang that wouldn’t be out of place hearing while driving in an open top down the California west-coast highway.
“I’ll Just Hold You” takes things down a gentle notch with its compassionate lyrics and three part harmonies, before a New Orleans marching beat leads into “I Got Time,” which uses different vocal parts to create effective dynamics.
“Glory Days” is almost opposite in tone to its Springsteen namesake, being a lightly melancholic nostalgic character song reflection.
Lucy Mills’ vocal is shown to good effect on the jazzier “Nobody’s Fool” which also shows off fine guitar work from the chaps in the band!
(the epk didn’t say who played what – sorry!)
There’s a serious message to end things in a joyous song “Goodbye Yesterday,” which is an eco-anthem which has its Marrakesh Express moments in feel and use of harmony for emphasis.
There are a couple of bonus tracks too – an acoustic remix of “All Born Free” and a piano remix of “I’ll Just Hold You,” both of which offer slightly mellower takes on earlier tracks – in the case of “I’ll Just Hold You”, the remix probably wouldn’t have slotted into the feel of the rest of the album, but as a standalone track is possibly the better of the two versions, especially in the way the piano adds extra poignancy to the sentiments of the song.
It’s clear to see why The Lost Notes are a popular live act on the Folk circuit – their versatility, dynamics, proficiency and energy is clear; the challenge for a good live band is to translate that sound and feel into recorded form – on “Lowlifes and High Times” the Lost Notes hit several peaks where their more ‘off the wall’ lyrics and ideas pair with their joyfully melancholic folkie Americana sound to create something that fits in amongst peers like the aforementioned Mapache, Fleet Foxes, The Nude Party and older soulmates like Fairport Convention, Beechwood Sparks and the aforementioned CSN&Y.
Forget the Laurel Canyon sound – this is the Balti Triangle sound….