Lowlights - Dark End Road
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Lowlights
Dark End Road

With his first album as Lowlights, Dameon Lee created someting that sounded like a lo-fi Spiritualized. With a mixture of traditional instrumentation and a small touch of electronics, the two halfs didn't quite mesh together, making for a somewhat inconsistent release. With Dark End Road, Lee is back and his aesthetic has changed ever so slightly, as well as his production techniques, the result of which is a much more assured album that flows much better than the debut and contains a much stronger batch of songwriting.

With an arsenal of almost twenty instruments (Lee along plays eight) and contributions from almost fifteen people, Dark End Road is also a much more full sounding release. Taking a swerve towards more country roots, the album also manages to take all those different sounds (including some electronic effects) and pull them together. The disc opens with radio static, subtle electronic glitches, some tone drones and banjo and acoustic guitar on "This One I Love Is Gone" before the album picks up on the more filled-out album-titled "Dark End Road." At just over six minutes, the track mixes everything from organs to strings to lap steel to strings into sections that range from desert-dry guitar reverb to almost orchestral pop.

Interestingly enough, it's when the album picks up that the tracks seem to lose some of their more interesting qualities and rumble forward pretty straightforwardly. Both "Emily" and "Drive Thru" pick up the pace and feel like they're going to be welcome changes on the album mostly haunted by ballads, but both tracks drop a majority of the instrumentation in favor of fairly plain guitar riffs and chord progressions.

Although the album does drag a bit in places becuase of the pace, Lee is much more at home amongst the slower tracks where he can really let his warm vocals lay down and mingle amongst the more varied instrumentation and let the lap steel croon along with him. The quiet "Snow Is Silver" and "The Curse" are both brokenhearted gems that tumble along with a hazy gaze and stand alongside softer work from onetime labelmates My Morning Jacket. A nice follow-up from a young artist creating some sunwashed music for excellent summer listening.

rating: 6.7510
Aaron Coleman 2005-08-11 00:00:00