Andrew Ellis and Lucky Lemont (Self-released)
For a couple of guys working with acoustic instruments in a down-and-dirty blues style, Toledo musicians Andrew Ellis and Lucky Lemont bring two things to their music that don't often show up together in the Americana format: swagger and authenticity.
Rather than blindly mine hoary folk and blues traditions that were getting stale 35 years ago, songwriter Ellis infuses his work with factory floor grit, edgy barroom menace, and a sense of confidence while still drawing on traditional roots. With a craggy, quirky, emotive voice he presents the songs with a fascinating combination of cockiness ("Fair Share of Violence") and sensitivity (the wonderfully simple but effective "Tail Lights.")
Just when you think he might teeter on bluster on the in-your-face message of "I'm Local," Ellis steers into far more sensitive, open-hearted territory on "None the Worse For Wear" and "Calloused Hands/Tender Heart." But he keeps it light, too, with the funny, mildly profane boast of "Momma's Gonna Hate This Song."
Lemont on bass gives the songs their body and bounce. Michael Gramza adds harmonica and Megan Fitzpatrick Urich accents some of the work with violin. Ellis plays guitar, tenor banjo, lap steel, and resonator guitar.
The only problem with "post-scarcity" is that for some reason Ellis and Lemont included two virtually identical versions of "Tail Lights," one recorded in the studio and one live.
It's an excellent song, but for a record this short (10 songs in about 28 minutes), something else might have been more appropriate.
That's quibbling over a release that keeps finding its way into my CD player and that sounds better each time I listen to it. It is being sold at Culture Clash Records on Secor Road. Ellis and Lemont play regularly in Toledo area bars.
— ROD LOCKWOOD