The Palace Guards
Mar 03, 2011 Web Exclusive
Given that David Lowery has been at it since the mid-'80s with his bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, it's somewhat surprising that this is his first solo album. But despite the team player that Lowery is, The Palace Guards showcases his current musical vision in a way that neither of his bands could have done justice to. Overall, The Palace Guards is a laid-back and hazy, Americana-esque album that benefits from subtle instrumental flourishes of harmonica, violin, organ, and what sounds like the occasional horn, while putting at the fore the lyrical wit and wry storytelling that has become Lowery's trademark.
"Raise 'Em Up Honey" starts things off, all banjo and shuffling rhythms, seeming to want to raise the roof on an album that never quite turns into the party its opener might suggest. The title track is filled with shifting rhythms and cheeky lyrics of fruity songwriting rock stars and strange expressions of love. The album's best one-two punch is set in the albums middle, beginning with "Ah, You Left Me," where the singer repeatedly asks, "Why did you leave?" over lilting acoustic guitars as he laments all the things he's tried to ease his pain. But Lowery, in all his brilliance, follows this with a song titled, "Baby, All Those Girls Meant Nothing To Me," which begins with him singing the title plea over raging guitars, the singer crawling on his hands and knees over the stuff of his the girlfriend threw out, begging for her to take him back. It's irony personified and the conflicted emotional center of the album.
After several more musings, Lowery finishes The Palace Guards with "Submarine," a track full of sweetly sad observations, such as, "It's all love and sweet caresses, then one day we die....come and wait with me," before the song simply fades out and the album ends. It's something of a shocking downer for a guy who's past projects have been known for their lively, upbeat nature, and sly observational humor. But it hits to the core of what Lowery is able to do best. (www.davidlowerymusic.com)
Author rating: 6/10
Average reader rating: 8/10