Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys are a fresh new voice in modern bluegrass, with driving instrumentals and a straight-from-the-still quality to Lindsay’s voice that gives the project a strong sense of authenticity and heritage. Starting off with “Hat’s Off,” the entire band lays down a powerful bluegrass groove that immediately creates a unique, credible sound. But this is a band willing to cross boundaries, as well as define them, creating a very musical and compelling style.
“Pass Me The Whiskey” rocks out on a punchy bass line from Spencer Cain and a cracking mandolin chop on the backbeat, spurred on by Lindsay’s bluesy vocals. “Querida Tierra” ventures into a south-of-the-border groove that shifts rhythmically and melodically in a hypnotic dance. The band even ventures off into some swing styles, such as the excellent “Tied Down To You” where they toss in a clear-toned trumpet in a Rosine-meets-New-Orleans sound that’s completely engaging. “Leaves And Pods” trods a more pop-influenced style that would sound at home from any of the more modern progressive bluegrass bands working today. And “Wonderful You Are” could find a place on a CD from jazz/pop vocalist Norah Jones.
All the bandmembers deserve a shout-out for their skills and creativity. Mandolinist Joshua Rilko has a strong, inventive style that draws from players such as David Grisman, Matt Flinner, and others without sounding derivative. Banjo player Keith Billik employs a dramatically melodic style that perfectly meshes with the rest of the band. Resonator guitarist Mark Lavengood manages to avoid the “Flux trap” to establish his own voice on the instrument.
Release Your Shrouds showcases an exceptionally talented band with a lush, warm ensemble sound that creates layers of harmonies and intricate, dynamic arrangements to draw in and captivate the listener. If you’re a fan of broad-based bluegrass with a strong infusion of creativity and intelligence, Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys is a band you definitely need to check out. (Earthwork Music, 4399 N. 7 Mile Rd., Lake City, MI 49651, www.earthworkmusic.com.)DJM