A self-deprecating acoustic folk roots five piece from Moseley in Birmingham, guitarists Ben Mills and Oli Jobes and Charlize Theron lookalike Lucy Mills provide the vocals with Silas Wood on double bass duties and Jamie Human behind the drums, they’ve been going for a couple of years and Run Free Right Now is their debut album.
They’re an exuberant bunch, the album kicking off with ‘Green Grass’, a three part harmony chorus hayride foot-stomping reminder that “even if life on the other side seems better, green grass always turns yellow.” Lucy steps into the vocal spotlight for the fingerpicked waltzing ‘Bobby’, a kiss-off leaving song with crooning chorus that gets a live reprise as the album’s bonus track. The pace picks up again with the outstretched helping hand of a jaunty strummed ‘All At Sea’ (which also get a vocal remix revisit) before all three voices join together for the bluegrassy Banker’s Blues, a playful jibe at the self-interested financial profession in which the narrator protests about being accused of not having a conscience, declaring “I care about everybody, just not as much as me.”
In similar tongue-in-cheek mode is the Jobes-penned ‘A Leader Of Men’, an uptempo Guthriesque romp which, referencing Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and Maggie Thatcher as he bemoans being unable to follow in their footsteps because of health and safety red tape.
Turning to their gentler side, the five-minute ‘I’ll Wait Until The Sunrise’ is a softer, folksier waltz with a lovely filigree guitar pattern, the lyrics drawing on the age old folk story/fairy tale of a woman (a selkie here) setting her suitor a series of task to complete before morning, while ‘Lonely With You’ is a slow waltzing, brushed drums number about missing a lost love.
Turning to 60s folk blues influences, the simple declaration of love that is ‘Touch The Sky’ is the other Jobes’ number, the circling guitar work suggesting the spirits of Jansch and Graham, coloured by Wood’s bowed double bass, the album taking another stylistic swerve with ‘Take My Hand’, a blues-gospel swing number that starts with finger-clicking and Mills singing a capella before the guitars join in as it shuffles between southern gospel and New Orleans flavoured jazz complete with a touch of ragtime guitar break.
The last two tracks are both Mills and Jones co-writes, ‘Stone In My Shoes’ one of those list songs about a fractious relationship served up as train choogling tempo blues number with buzzing harmonica, the album proper ending with the mid-tempo title track’s call to escape the urban pressures for a simpler life of music, friends and harmony, chasing the sun and dancing with the breeze, Ben shouting out the title refrain as it gathers to a crescendo and final quiet close.
Like many first albums, the eagerness to show off different sides of the music means it doesn’t always flow as fluidly it might, and I’d have liked to have hear more of Lucy’s vocals upfront, but there’s no doubting the quality of the performances or the talent in evidence. The Lost Notes are a real find.
Artists’ website: www.thelostnotes.co.uk