Celtic flavours blend with Hammond B3 and slide on homage to New Orleans and the state of the US.
‘Claiborne Avenue’ is the latest release from Doctor Lo Faber, reflecting his love for, and understanding of, New Orleans. His home for some ten years, Lo hails from Pennsylvania, and has an interesting shared background in music– founding God Street Wine, a successful jam/touring band, and also recording as the Lo Faber Band–and academia, as a former history professor.
On its ten tracks a wide range of influences are evident, notably bluegrass but with strong elements of traditional Irish music. Prominent fiddle, and a traditional theme, lean towards Celtic roots on album opener ‘Grey Green Eyes’, while that bluegrass feel is evident on mandolin and slide guitar, which feature throughout the album.
‘Guns and Sharp Swords’ has an old-time feel, again with those Celtic flavours, especially in vocal tone and phrasing, while on ‘Kenosha Baby’ a lush string arrangement contrasts with a lament for the state of the USA where he sings “This is America where shit is insane / Where some eyes see murder and think ‘how can I gain’”, leading the listener to an unexpected lyrical twist.
Title track ‘Claiborne Avenue’ is an atmospheric homage to the New Orleans street, warts and all, “Who knows what you can catch in the air…car jackers all stayed home tonight/but you still keep your car windows rolled up tight/when you roll down Claiborne Avenue”. The chilled mid-tempo song has the full tones of the Hammond B3 at the forefront, in a rich arrangement with an almost Steely Dan feel.
The B3 features again on ‘Down at The Fly’, also set in New Orleans, a tender love song, Lo singing “Meet me down at the Fly/we can watch the Mississippi flow/and maybe not a word needs to be said”, while on ballad ‘Moon Tide’ he laments that “I have done all you asked/I’ve left roses by the roadside”, in an arrangement that has hints of psychedelia in its instrumental sections.
‘You Know Me Best’ returns to a Celtic vibe, with more than a nod to Shane McGowan and the Pogues, with its refrain “You see more than you say/you say more than the rest/you know me best”, and featuring the great line “I played the villain in the movie of our lives”.
Faber notes that he played most of the instruments himself for the initial recordings of ‘Claiborne Avenue’, but subsequently added players with impressive pedigrees, such as Dave Eggar (The Who, Coldplay, Beyoncé) on cello and string arrangements; Jason Crosby (Phil Lesh, Jackson Browne, Tedeschi & Trucks) on piano and fiddle; God Street Wine’s Jon Bevo and Aaron Lieberman on keys and lead guitar; New Orleans musician/DJ Marc Stone on slide guitar; Bristol, TN virtuoso Blake Collins on mandolin; and Ted Marotta and Tom Pirozzi on drums and bass respectively.
A fine blend of influences and strong lyrics make for a rewarding listen.