Bat Country / Scarlet 2015
Back to the dimly lit disposition, English ensemble distill and refine their warm burn.
“I can’t function in this state,” admits Liz Lenten in the title song of her third album after getting back in creative action, but what state does she sing about? 2014’s "Nashville" placed the band’s Americana right where it geographically belonged, although the shift across the ocean had resulted in a rather camp realization of the English ensemble’s stylistic nature. Also recorded in the States, “Mixed Feelings” fortunately swings back on track, as the passion in Lenten’s sultry voice – palpable as wood-carved bas-relief when set against the often minimal instrumentation – is genuine.
“Out There” offers a soothing rumble to contrast the way emotional turmoil goes, vibrantly stricken with Thomm Jutz’s steel guitar and punched by Mark Fain’s bass, yet its destination holds hope landing on “Feel The Sun” to gain force. It shines through the gloom of “Crystal Stairs” which unexpectedly throws a funky keyboard solo and jazzy axe jive in, and rises in the almost hymnal “New Year’s Day” where dobro kisses a piano, while “Friends” finds it in the bluesy environment. Just as old-timey, “Wood For The Trees” rips through the fiddle-woven cobwebs of yesterday so sincerely that the singer’s self-absolution gets infectious.
“I don’t have the strength to untwist you,” warbles Liz apologetically in “Quiet Life” but what she does over the course of this record is untangling herself to reveal the heat inside. A triumph of simplicity.