CD Review of Concrete Glass by The Lonely H
The Lonely H: Concrete Glass
Recommended if you like
Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams, Credence Clearwater Revival
Label
The Control Group
The Lonely H: Concrete Glass
  • Alt Country, Roots Rock, Country Rock
  • 2009
  • Buy the CD

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

A
lt-country, country rock, roots rock or Americana – call it what you will, the merger of down-home sentiments and rock ‘n’ roll attitude has been a cornerstone of music ever since Chuck Berry infused heartland tradition with rhythm ‘n’ blues and Buddy Holly left Lubbock for broader horizons (and eventual immortality). Nevertheless, the sound didn’t really take root until Dylan set his sights on the Nashville Skyline and the Byrds took flight with Gram Parsons and wooed the Sweetheart of the Rodeo. The Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco, the New Riders of the Purple Sage -- even the Rolling Stones (via Exile on Main Street) – helped further the form and made country rock an integral part of the new pop vocabulary. The ‘80s saw a rebirth of the country connection via bands like the Jayhawks and Uncle Tupelo, groups that would have a lingering influence and become the linchpins that would usher Americana into the new millennium.

So here we are more than 30 years later and the style’s still flourishing, even though it tends to take a harder, more cynical stance. Hence, artists like Ryan Adams, the Mekons, Bare Jr., and Todd Snider infuse their back-porch amplitude with an edgy attitude and a rebellious streak that affirms their youth. And yet, some things never change; the shimmering steel guitars, the high harmonies, the pluck of banjos and mandolins remain indelible trademarks of an enduring country connection.

Given that common bond, it’s easy for a group like Lonely H to be overlooked in the deluge of modern Americana. And while some of the cause could be laid on the band itself – the all too obvious influence of everyone from Kings of Leon to Exile-era Stones, the Eagles and Poco are proliferated throughout this set – they deserve the same acknowledgement as their down home peers. The band’s third album, Concrete Glass (allegedly named for an expression coined by Eagle Don Henley to evoke the six degrees of studio separation needed from his acrimonious band mates) proves they have earned some legitimacy. While the angst and attitude that inform the modern imbroglio makes an overt impression, especially early on in songs like "White Horse Tears," "Diggin’ a Hole" and "Phoenix," the overall tone is surprisingly amiable. Echoes of more genteel forebears – the Band, the Eagles, and NRPS in particular – permeate tracks such as "The River," "Singer," and "Strike a Chord," and a profusion of traditional instrumentation, rambling rhythms and ragtag harmonies keep the country comforts close to the surface.

Ultimately, it’s easy to classify the Lonely H as also-rans in the alt-country sweepstakes, not only because they bare their influences so unashamedly but also because at this stage of the game, there’s little that can be added to the form that hasn’t been thoroughly mined already. Nevertheless, the fact that they sum things up so adroitly, albeit unintentionally, ought to earn them some degree of appreciation. The Lonely H aren’t the first band to traipse this well-trod terrain; nor will they be the last. Regardless, they’ve certainly done an admirable job of staking their claim.

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