“My poor, poor body; my poor, poor soul. Regret rules my life now that I’m old.” So goes the beginning of the chorus of About A Dying Father, on the new release from Silas Lowe; Wandering Father, Forgotten Son. In sort of a tribute to Lowe’s father, a 60’s musician who left the family when Silas was young, he manages to capture the essence of the results of bad decisions without it ever coming across as a lecture or unearned forgiveness. In fact, the album is a collection of songs from both Lowe and his father.
The spirit of the album is very Americana, with a strong leaning toward bluegrass. The opening number, Mountain Man, is a classic bluegrass arrangement of a song about a man who loves his whiskey. All My Troubles Here is another traditional bluegrass piece, while Burning Bride slows things down a bit. Poor People’s Doctor, while still in the bluegrass bucket, is a tongue-in-cheek observation about health care that’s irresistible sing-along material.
There is also a big share of the album where Lowe goes into some fun musical adjacencies. Moving To Manchaca is a Texas swing lament on the state of living in Austin these days. Ode To Oregon subtly uses accordion and horns to give one of Lowe’s dad’s songs a feeling of floating down the river on a lazy Sunday. Edge Of the World is a duet over a simple acoustic bass line with an almost gospel feel to it. The final number, Memphis, is a delta blues infused tale where the tempo matches the lazy river running by the home of Sam Phillip’s launchpad of rock and roll.
One of the treasures of Wandering Father, Forgotten Son is the recording and sonic values of producer Ben Sanders. There are a number of hidden instrumental gems where he’s used a single background instrument, viola to resonater, accordion to trumpet, to inject a feeling so complementary to the song itself you almost miss it unless you have your headphones in full-on noise canceling mode. The result is a richness that elevates the album past so many similar projects and a worthwhile stocking stuffer for Americana fans.
About the author: Support new music. Listen to a band or singer you've never heard of this week. I've been doing that for over 30 years.