CD REVIEW: Lou’s Blues’ “Romanticizin'”
Review by Wanda Callagy
Photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Lou’s Blues – Leslie Barkman, Joe Lowry, Christopher Peck and Al Kash – are celebrating the release of their debut CD, Romanticizin’, this Sunday (December 16) at Lost & Found in Albany. And it is indeed a collaboration. Barkman’s soulful lyrics, voice and keys, Lowry’s husky vocals and sweet guitar, Peck’s rock solid bass groove, and Kash’s steady sticks create a blues style all their own.
Barkman came to Albany and the local jam scene after a long career in education. Songwriting seems a natural step for a lover of language, feelings and dancing. Romanticizin’ is a tribute to the many friends and musicians who have shared their knowledge and encouragement.
Barkman invited Joe Lowry to add his guitar improvisational skills to the mix. “Leslie doesn’t restrain me and gives me the freedom to embellish,” says Lowry, “but I listen closely and watch, and musically it works.”
When Barkman asked Al Kash to play on the CD, he agreed. “We read each other very well,” said Kash. “Though Leslie is very structured with her notes and the playlist, once we start playing, she goes with the flow. It’s fun, and there is joy in that moment. We go with that vibe.”
When Barkman asked Chris Peck to join them, he readily agreed. “What a great opportunity, as I had not played with Al and Joe before.”
The CD opens with “Love Weary Blues,” a blues ballad with strong vocals and funky guitar. Have you had those blues? “Money” is a fast-paced comment on government, while “I Never Knew Nobody Like You” and “Mechanic” are full of fun, busy bass lines and reasons to dance. And “Fighting the Feeling” is a duet that explores the stay-or-go decision.
The lyrics of the album’s title track make an interesting statement about the depth of our involvement in anything other than ourselves. “The Love I’m Sending You” is a musical discussion about the type of love needed in a turbulent time. Kash’s drum roll adds a somber and serious note, while Peck and Lowry add vocals, along with special guest Carmen Chu. Hope wins.
“Lay Yourself Down” is the closest Barkman comes to a country song. “‘Til I Figure This Out” brings out a mysterious, misty sound with organ and the steady tom-tom beat. A cry-in-the-night wail adds to the vocal quandary with Lowry’s deft fingers. And then it fades away.
“Stop Pretending” is a buck-up-and-move-on song, while “Good Thing Goin’” gets us dancing again. And the closing “Grand Jam” is just that, an uptempo end to a fine CD.