The Curse Of Lono
(Submarine Cat Records)
If acoustic and electric spirited music of the roots/Americana variety find favour with you, dear reader, this act will save your soul…AND you will be able to go and see them perform as this is no studio-bound project. The band name and album title might lead you to think we are in Goths’R’Us but not so! Lead honcho Felix has been a friend of your scribes for many years, going back to my championing of a UK roots group called Hey Negrita who blew some fresh air into country rock and took lyrics far beyond dancing at fish-fry events. The group featured Felix and Lono drummer Neil Findlay.
Five Miles and a gentle acoustic guitar strum leads into the held-notes vocal arrangement, electric guitar sweeps, rumbling bass and subtle build of the drums. You are taken to a dusty desert highway somewhere and by the two-minute mark a solid beat is established. Those slide guitar shards are by turns clear and fuzz-steeped. This music just creeps up on the listener, no shouting, no melodrama – just a cruising rootsy sound imbued with motion.
Pick Up The Pieces is more syncopated and already a stage favourite, dirty axe drops and all. Felix sings with a mix of plea and persuasion – as he ever did – and the song is absurdly catchy. Each Time You Hurt is stealthy and evokes Woody Guthrie in pacing, the group (Dani Ruiz Hernandez, Jo Hazell and Charis Anderson) hold back. The structure and melody here is of the John Prine / Terry Allen persuasion. The lyrics which centre on empathy are clearly presented and the song seems to give the listener a sonic hug…
Just My Head starts with downhome slide guitar, a small town sound that develops into a harder strum. A drinking song – there had to be one! – with a very rich vocal ensemble of the type that this outfit can readily draw upon. Even if this overall sound might be described as Americana, no dubious exaggerated Yank mannerisms are employed BUT it is surely at the same time not anything approaching English traditional folk and the clichés that said strand has taken on. London Rain rides in on a kind of rhumba and Felix semi-growls the lyric over warm electric piano – cool stuff ! The softly sinister fashioning of this song nods to Tom Waits maybe but this one really does show the band off well. The piano break soaks us in Manzarek mystique.
He Takes My Place is as laidback as you could ever wish, harmonium wheezing away and folky melody that ruminates on a love rival. It doesn’t sound angry, just curious..a little curious anyway. Send For The Whisky is more great Felix colourful imagery and a folk tale told, try not clapping along. The full-blooded chorus points to this being a setlist must. The buzzy guitar figures are a delight.
All I Got has a tremelo’d keyboard tone and archetypal Bechtolsheimer vocal of painful honesty. I could never ever write a song as open as this which is why this man fascinates me, not hiding in third person stories but stark and simple. Welcome Home employs semi-martial drumming and Felix sounds a tad cheesed off but not yelling just firm in his delivery. This is the closest he gets to Dylan, I venture. The slide guitar is drenched in reverb. Don’t Look Down sends the collection off with an acoustic lament, beautifully sung.
If you took the yobbishness out of The Pogues and drew a line to Nashville Skyline, via Gene Clark’s No Other, Curse of Lono would surely roll into earshot. But this is an act you must see live, I suggest.
(Thanks Felix, thanks Glenn)
The Curse Of Lono’s debut album ‘Severed’ is out now on Submarine Cat Records.
For band info and tour date details, point the pony at http://bit.ly/2wjkbAh