I’m working from home today which means my plan is two-fold, starting with Phase One, this easy 6.6k drill run. The weather is still pretty nice out today (overcast, but warm) so I want to milk as much of what “shorts and t-shirt appropriate” time is left along the Friendship Trail. This mornings sound track is the eponymous album by Gill Landry.
Gill Landry, also known by the stage name of Frank Lemon, is a singer/songwriter and guitarist born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and a former member of Old Crow Medicine Show. The story goes that Gill got his first guitar when he was 5 years old. Landry started The Kitchen Syncopators with his friend Woody Pines in 1998 spending many years busking the streets of New Orleans, the Northwest, and Europe. Later, Gill began to lend vocals and play banjo and steel guitar for OCMS. When Old Crow co-founder Chris “Critter” Fuqua “went on hiatus” from the group in 2007 to pursue a recovery from a longtime alcohol addiction, the group looked for a suitable replacement, finding it in Gill, whom they’d first encountered in New Orleans in 2000, where they were both busking over Mardi Gras. Gill has since struck out on his own, this being his 3rd album released this past spring recorded pretty much all out of his Nashville apartment.
Despite being only 36 minutes in length, it is a powerful listen. For instance, in the span of just one minute and 51 seconds, the opening track, ‘Funeral in My Heart‘, painfully examines the loss of a loved one with poetic lyrics.
“Everyone is dressed in black. With chrysanthemums and voodoo dolls trying to bring you back. As the lonesome hearse rolls slowly to the graveyard of my mind. Other than that I’m feeling fine.”
And then closes out the track with:
“Why do all the good things have to die?”
Okay, so that might cutting a little close to home for what was intended to be a light enjoyable jog but it’s no less a powerful song.
However, unlike this mornings run, Landry is not on this soul-searching journey alone; he has help from an impressive cast of characters, including Robert Ellis, Nick Etwell and Odessa Jorgensen of Mumford and Sons (on ‘Lost Love‘). ‘Just Like You‘ is up next and makes the hip reference to reading Bukowski in your underwear. I like that. The strongest collaboration, though, comes halfway through the album with Laura Marling on ‘Take This Body‘. Clocking in at almost five minutes, it is the longest track on the record … and the most haunting. It also strangely appropriate given I’m running along a mostly barren Friendship Trail which is also now nearly completely void of any leaves and colorful autumn growth but has a totally amazing smell of freshly cut wood. It (the album) offers one a warm imprint suggesting wide-open vistas and dusky two-lane roads where the ghosts of missed chances pepper the air with late summer melancholia. It’s rife with a sense of general road-weariness; something I can relate to, albeit in a different way (the run).
Truth be told, it’s a perfect listen if you’re into dredging up your deepest, darkest fears and then proceeding to do the watusi all over them. But while I’m not currently into this whole voyage into self-pity and remorse lately as my life is in a pretty damn good place physically, mentally and emotionally. Especially given it’s November and I’m still running in shorts and t-shirts and I’m warm…warm! I can appreciate the album for what is: a near Americana masterpiece of solo singer/songwriter perfection. Something that is experienced, rather than simply listened to.
Onto Phase 2…