Lethbridge Owen

2019

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It’s interesting to read reviews and press releases about musicians you know nothing about; however it’s often a double edged sword as along with the heads up background info’ comes a whole pile of hyperbole and print sized summary headlines that you end up rebelling against in order to avoid the same clichés and adding to the chorus of claims that whoever is being reviewed is the absolute new bees knees. Sometimes it’s easier to follow the flow. Accordingly, Lethbridge Owen is a Pop-Rock/Folk-Rock outfit that are dead ringers for Rumours era Fleetwood Mac (not really!), which is one way of looking at it.

Another way is to describe them as incorporating a number of varying influences, that certainly includes Folk, that results in a distinctive and impressive sound; the rich acoustic guitar picking tones displayed throughout this enjoyable collection of songs are reminiscent of the tone and inventiveness of a number of UK guitarists that came out of the 1960’s Folk scene (Bert Jansch and John Renbourn for example) and Kelly Lethbridge’s vocals have that unaffected Folk purity but with a very warm melodic tone that has a bit of a Country feel (they can add Country Rock to the list of sound-alike genres!).

This combination is evident on ‘Leaving Home’, which even adds a bit of fiddle towards the end. The picking is particularly nice on ‘From Now On’. Kelly’s voice is very listenable and her layered harmonies on these tracks are lovely, adding a lot of depth to what is a beautifully recorded and well produced album. The opening track ‘All We Have Is Hope’ is the standout track on a standout collection, crammed full of hooks and different vocal melodies. The slight inflection given on the single word “Yeah” which forms part of the chorus is a real ear-worm that grabs the attention, simple but effective. A lot of time and thought has clearly gone into arriving at the lush arrangements of these songs, which are full of catchy instrumental sections and multiple stops and pushes.

The other real distinctive feature of these songs is the excellent guitar work by co-leader Jimmy Owen. You can see where the Mac comparisons come from, an easy on the eye male and female singer songwriter combo, one of whom is a special guitar player that can Rock out where required. However, Jimmy Owen’s guitar work is much more prominent, taking flight on most songs in bursts of powerful melodic lines that are a real feature and contribute hugely to the rich arrangements and overall feel.

Hendrix is quoted as an influence and it shows, as the solos have a real bite. A number of songs are upbeat and rocky, like ‘Two Steps Forward’ (or even a bit Funky, like on ‘Back To The Blue’) without compromising the melodic content or breaking up the homogenous feel of the album. I’ve been playing this album non-stop without remotely getting to the point of overfamiliarity; it’s a collection that bears repeated listening and whets the appetite for hearing them live as well as raising expectations about what they will produce next. When it comes to genre descriptions perhaps its best just to file this under “good music”.

Simon Green