Levi Lowrey

Southern Ground Artists SGA018

A name unfamiliar to me, Levi Lowrey has penned songs for the Zac Brown Band (including chart-topping Colder Weather), and tours regularly with them. This is his second album, released on Brown’s label and co-produced by Brown band member Clay Cook, who also plays pedal and lap steel, electric and acoustic guitar, Hammond organ and Wurlitzer piano here. The whole thing was recorded start to finish in two weeks, and unlike so many Nashville productions, sounds like a cohesive album. All the songs are penned by Lowrey and they sound genuinely honest and true without a hint of that ‘one-eye-on-the-radio-dial’ that can mar so much of modern-day country songwriting.

An enlightened storyteller with a novel musical approach, he displays an astonishing diversity of songcraft and a consistent level of inspiration. From the easy, almost hushed jangly plea of Trying Not To Die to the driving, fiddle-laden instrumental Flywheel, Levi Lowrey isn’t content with his audience being passive listeners to his music. He wants them to feel it in their soul. That’s the sign of an artist so impassioned, so eaten up with making music that he can’t help but do it. When he slows it down, as he does on Window Pane Soul, he distinguishes himself from the pack. Working in a sparse instrumental setting fuelled mainly by acoustic guitar, his raspy voice gives emphatic weight to a well-drawn song steeped in the melodrama of an unravelling relationship. What She Don’t Know and Barely Getting By are both finely drawn character studies—this guy is the real thing in a musical genre full of pretenders. About the only thing that doesn’t resonate on this very satisfying album is the somewhat raucous Ozzy Osbourne closer War Pigs. But the previous 14 tracks more than make up for that one faux pas.