Lewis & Clarke Bare Bones and Branches

Sure, it’s almost ridiculous how many singer-songwriters there are that hide their work behind a band name, but as long as they keep putting out listenable and interesting records, let them do their thing. Lewis & Clarke, or Lou Rogai to be more exact, treads the territory of Papa M and Iron & Wine very well, and to be on par with such talent should be a hint to the quality found on this album. Just look to the echoed slide guitar, slight piano and simple country-rock of "Bathtime Blues” to be given an indicator of Rogai’s talents. A serious pastoralist, Rogai apparently draws his inspiration from the coal regions found in Pennsylvania and the forest along the Delaware River and the music does have a lo-fi traditionalist style very similar to M. Ward, but with more emphasis on melody and a more complete song structure. Another highlight is "Dead and Gone,” which, with just some guitar strumming, a Rhodes piano and Rogai’s rough-hewn voice, easily shows that Lewis & Clarke have their own particular vision. It’s a well-trod genre, but with acts like Lewis & Clarke still surprising us with such simple, melodic insights, maybe we should all just make room for one more. (Summersteps)