Published Feb 21, 2014Levi Lowrey's second, self-titled album is a straightforward ode to the Southern strain of alt-country/rock. The country lies in the familiar lyrical themes: love and loss, kids and family, leaving home and coming back, working hard and scraping by, all with virtually twang-less delivery. The Southern rock shines through in hints of hammond organ and wurlitzer, and plenty of straight-ahead, guitar-driven grooves ("Picket Fences," "Urge for Leaving"). Other tracks veer closer to bluegrass instrumentation. "I've Held the Devil's Hand" has a decent banjo solo, while a choir nod to older gospel numbers on "There is Power in the Blood."
The final track, "War Pigs" is the big surprise. The Black Sabbath classic comes on the heels of a great instrumental, "Flywheel," which showcases Lowrey's fiddle playing, and the fiddle continues into the metal classic in a Charlie Daniels Band-meets-Sabbath moment.
However, Lowrey's solid, velvet vocals, and down-to-earth songwriting are somewhat lost in this overproduced album. Underneath the sepia-toned album art, the sound is a bit too polished, and pared-down arrangements might have better highlighted the talents of this singer-songwriter, who has co-written with Zac Brown, the executive producer of Lowrey's sophomore album. (Southern Ground Artists)