From the moment you begin track one, it becomes apparent that Levi Lowrey‘s self-titled album isn’t your typical type of modern country, and that’s okay. What quickly exposes itself is a polished and well thought out album that is as much of a lyrical triumph as it is a musical one. If you’re looking for songs about cold beer, cut-off jeans or tailgates, you’re in the wrong place. However, if you’re looking for substance and songs that touch on deeper issues of faith (“That Is All,” “I’ve Held the Devil’s Hand), family (“Urge for Leaving”) and things like the status quo (“Barely Getting By”), look no further than Levi Lowrey.
Levi is one of the mega-talents signed to Zac Brown‘s Southern Ground Artists and a co-writer on the ZBB hit “Colder Weather.” Additionally, this album was executive produced by Zac Brown, but aside from some formidable fiddling and an incredible beard, don’t expect a ZBB copycat here. The album kicks off with the up-tempo country-rock groove of “Picket Fences” that sets an immediate tone. The musical journey then weaves through incredible highs and lows, Levi’s voice ranging from impressive grit and gruff to soulfully soothing and warm, before concluding with an impressive cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” that would make Ozzy proud.
The album’s second track, “December Thirty-One” is an ode to New Year’s Eve and the reflection and promise that ultimately comes with that day. “Throw your arms around me, looks like we’re gonna make it through,” Levi sings. “Dance like your worries have fallen far away to a place where they won’t worry you.” Seizing the day and living life comes up again on the song “Trying Not to Die,” in which Levi urges, “Pick up all your courage and fly. When it comes down to the end, are you living my friend or trying your best not to die?”
Faith also plays as a prominent theme of the album, including on the rocking “That Is All” which wouldn’t sound out of place in the Foo Fighters catalog. On this track, over riffing guitars and driving drums, he declares “God is God, man is man, that is all.” Stick around until the end of this track for a driving guitar solo. The incredible musicianship and faith-driven message continues on “I’ve Held the Devil’s Hand,” with some phenomenal fiddling.
Immediate favorites include the romantic “What She Don’t Know” and “Before the Hymnal Died,” a reflection on growing up in a Baptist church where everyone knows everyone and everything about everyone. It’s a soothing ode to simpler times, reflecting back on the old days before “we watched a screen and there was no choir.” The former track is the familiar story of a woman who keeps her eyes closed to ignore the love that may be right in front of her fave.
Levi’s voice also shines on the angelic-sounding “Long Way Home,” skillfully caressing the ‘hallelujahs’ of the chorus and on “High and Lonesome,” which seems to recall a bit of another bearded wonder, Jamey Johnson.
Levi Lowrey’s self-titled album is clearly a different type of country music, but we sure enjoyed it. The musicianship and lyrics are truly masterful and this album stands out like a Maserati in a row of beat-up old pickup trucks.
New album ‘Levi Lowrey’ is available now on iTunes here: http://smarturl.it/LeviLowrey