Conor Lynch: Slow Country (Devil Town Tapes) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Conor Lynch

Slow Country

Devil Town Tapes

Apr 02, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Pull any average singer off a porch in Appalachia and surround them with fiddle, guitar, piano, mandolin, banjo, accordion, pedal steel and you’re likely to come up with something pretty nice to listen to. In Detroit-based Conor Lynch’s case half those instruments are played by him and all in support of a dozen subtly crafted and beautiful songs that put him well beyond average. It doesn’t hurt that Lynch’s partner in crime, Ryan McDonald, is a degreed sound engineer and plays a variety of instruments as well. Slow Country is Lynch’s fourth album and one where everything seamlessly gels.

Lynch spent his youth in the more rural pinky finger of Michigan’s left-handed mitten and much of the album concerns itself with a scratchy collar sense of restlessness. The hangdog feel of “Steam Whistle” and more forward moving “Tworailsmeet” bear that out. The album starts with its longest song. The nearly seven-minute long “Psithurism,” which in name recalls some of the high brow song titles Buck Meek likes to use, doesn’t feel like a forced education. The title refers to the rustling of leaves and hailing from the land of the quaking aspen it all holds together naturally. “Watch the waves move through the grass, white ribbons over green and golden glass,” Lynch sings as the song is accented with fiddle and pedal steel before a twisting interlude pulls us into a more complex second half.

Much of Slow Country succeeds on being understated and the same is true for the instrumentation. Though much is on offer, all is used sparingly and introduced as the album unfolds. Piano on the country lope of “Hill,” banjo leads on indie folk leaning “Cockaigne,” while the tone poem of “Long Ways From Home” highlights McDonald on accordion.

Echoes of the past inform, but don’t overwhelm Lynch’s work. His vocals share the same weary wispiness of Jeff Tweedy, but one of the album’s crowning moments, “Creator,” pulls more from Tweedy’s Uncle Tupelo partner, Jay Farrar. Sonically, “Creator” feels of a piece with Farrar’s take of the ancient “Moonshiner” on Uncle Tupelo’s March 16-20, 1992. But the theme is more on point with Farrar’s read of The Louvin Brothers’ doomy “Atomic Power,” from the same album. In the song’s opening lines Lynch chillingly ponders, “I know one day I’ll hear jets, and they’ll scream across the sky.” Other touchpoints are flavored by Lynch’s exposure to Southern rock when he was younger. The brightly hued tangle of guitars on “Tworailsmeeet,” and the song’s title, feel a tip of the hat to the late great Lowell George’s “Two Trains.” And the aptly named title track has a melodic trace of a super slowed down “Tuesday’s Gone,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Whether lighting out for the territories, as Lynch is pulled to do, chilling in the springtime air, or contemplating the end times, Slow Country is a perfect companion to all. Lynch shares the same innate can’t not nail a melody skill of label mate Greg Mendez, but the album’s open hearted country tinged essence slot in more with underground folksters like Fust and Sluice. Words like gorgeous and lovely don’t get thrown around nearly enough when called for. Slow Country fits every bit of those descriptors to a T. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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