Loretta Lynch is a five-piece from California, and not a solo act as the name suggests. With three female vocalists and varied instrumental a genuine, carefree organic sound of the road is hatched.
It took me a little while to slip into their groove, but once I did there was no letting go as I was struck down with the likes of early cuts “Baby Made 1,2,3” and “Indicator”. A delightful affair that whisks the listener on a ‘trip’ across the country that views mountain ranges, trees as tobacco, drink and amphetamines are indulged in. Though they speak of coming home on this track, it isn't for long as in no time they become restless and eager for action.
With much innovation, their music straddles country, folk and pop with ease. It is like their music was married to the likes of the SweetBack Sisters, Eileen Jewell, Amy Rigby and Amy Allison. The latter pair would I am sure have been involved in the band’s cover of the Ramones’ “Sedated” and most likely, western favourite “Ghost Riders In The Sky”.
The three covers gain inclusion alongside their wistful, misery plied ‘Someone You Used To Know’ and lazy ‘Used To Be Me’. With endless helpings of seamless vocal harmonies and equally fine twangy West Coast country guitar the album is a joy throughout. As the sounds listed above and close relations merge on the likes of clever piece “I Need You” that leans on old folk harmony groups with a smidge of humour. As the ‘girls’ have a ball on a collaboration from Heather (Davison), Val (Esway) and Ari (Fellows-Mannion). Fellows-Mannion in particular impresses with her writing. I take it her to sing lead on a composition she pens “Eyes Of A Small Town”. That not only has the regular and no less enjoyable vocal harmony support but fine accordion (Melanie DeGiovanni) escort it home. While to something of a boom-chicka-boom Johnny Cash-esque beat, Davison’s “Sweet Ambiguity” rolls back the clock to country music some 50 years. Great stuff. If Anita Carter and her sisters, Helen and June were alive today they would be onto it in a heartbeat!
Need I say more except that Nathan Moy and Dan Olmstead the others in the band are invaluable too. As acoustic and electric guitar, upright bass, washboard (Davison), mandolin (Fellows-Mannion) and drums lend support to the vocals.
"Every note and word of this disc sounds special - I can't stop listening to this amazing album. America now has three stunning country bands, The Sweetback Sisters, The Secret Sisters and Loretta Lynch. I expect big things from Valerie, Heather and Ari in the future."
... DIY twang from this female-led SF Bay Area quintet... Singers Heather Davison, Val Esway and Ari Fellows-Mannion take turns with the songwriting; highlights include Fellows-Manion's "Baby Made 1-2-3," in which a pair of hipster parents longs for their nightclubbing days, before the biggest excitement at night was changing diapers or reading a bedtime story to their kid... It's a catchy tune that taps into the simplicity of old-school country. Also fun are their cover tunes, a surfy remake of "Ghost Riders In The Sky," NRBQ's bluesy "What Can I Say," and a hillbilly update of "I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones (a sure crowd-pleaser at their concerts!) Their rugged, acoustic-based sound, with plenty of guitar, bass, mandolin -- and a wicked bit of washboard rhythm -- shows that local, homegrown twang is alive and well in the East Bay.
- Joe Sixpack http://www.slipcue.com/music/country/new/2011/reviews_11_november_2011.html
Friday @ Freight & Salvage: Though Loretta Lynch describes its music as Americana noir ("a little Loretta Lynn, a little David Lynch"), this Bay Area alt-country combo's third album, "Home Fires," features songs more interested in cracking wise about life's inevitable disappointments than in illuminating dark nights of the soul. Joe Rut, the singer-songwriter who was Loretta Lynch's founding lead guitarist, opens the show and then joins his former comrades. 8 p.m., $20.50-$22.50, all ages. 2020 Addison St., Berkeley. (510) 644-2020. www.thefreight.org.
"Loretta Lynch: Is neo-twang an official genre? If so, this East Bay band that describes its sound "a little tear in your beer, a knife in the back, a little tongue in cheek" could be a standard-bearer, with its three-part harmonies, slide guitars & abundance of attitude."
This Americana and country folk band from Oakland formed in 2002 when singer Val Esway decided she wanted to do something different from her loud Ramona the Pest rock band. At first, different may have meant quieter. "Fueled by irreverence, a love for gourmet food and copious quantities of beer and hard cider, we kept peppering our softer songs with rowdier tunes," says Heather Davison, who joined Esway's three-part living-room harmony. As the songs grew stronger, and the noise level grew louder, Loretta Lynch graduated to bigger gigs - including stadium-size shows at England's 2003 Glastonbury Music Festival and opening for country superstar Alabama on the second stage at the Shoreline Amphitheatre and Sleeptrain Pavilion in Concord. Off the corporate circuit and back to their intimate living-room-like venue roots, the ladies (and gentlemen, too) of Loretta Lynch are focused on writing songs that explore alternative and semi-fictitious story lines. "It's not easy to follow the open road these days with the lives we've built around us," says Davison, who describes the Loretta Lynch story and sound as "a little tear in your beer, knife in the back, a little tongue in cheek, saucy ... and sublime."
1. Loretta Lynch's music should be filed between:
Neil Young and Freakwater.
2. The soundtrack to what movie would Loretta Lynch's music best match?
"Thelma and Louise of Belleville Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest With a Bottle of Whiskey."
3. If Loretta Lynch could collaborate on a song with any person, living or dead, who would that be?
OK. It may take Mary Shelley to make this happen, but: Johnny Cash, Exene Cervenka and Lydia Lunch, Willie Nelson, Los Lobos, Iggy Pop, Link Wray and Mae West.
4. If your junior high school invited Loretta Lynch to perform any cover song at the next talent show, what song would you choose and why?
"I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones performed at Central Wilbur John Adams Middle School, NewaPaloMonicalulu, Delarizonaforniawaii.
5. What is the meaning of life?
To end up with the right regrets.
Check them out: www.lorettalynch.com. myspace.com/lorettalynch
Next gig: A Jimmy Sweetwater Presents event with 77 El Deora, Gayle Lynn and the Hired Hands. 9 p.m. Fri. $13. All ages. Slim's, 333 11th St., S.F. (415) 255-0333. www.slims-sf.com.
"If Loretta Lynch sounds a bit off, it's supposed to; if it doesn't, you're not listening hard enough. Nothing's sacred in modern music, and while this San Francisco quartet holds outlaw country in high esteem, it's not entirely loyal. Loretta Lynch plays the sort of California country-lover's country that has no past, as if it rolled in on a wave one day and set up shop. Buttery vocal harmonies and wary rhythms convey timeless tales about heartbreak, coming home, and growing old that still manage to sound utterly modern.
... Grab a copy of Loretta Lynch’s new album “Concrete and Ether”... as much vino and tequila as you can carry ... Let the music of Loretta Lynch whirl you into a frenzy, dance around the living room in full view of the neighbours, and exorcise those demons.
Loretta Lynch has generally straddled the line between the better aspects of twang and pop, but their second CD, "Concrete & Ether", is clearly on the twang side of the fence. The CD's strengths are its harmonies, songwriting and an undercurrent of humor that adds up to a balance of variety, cohesion, and sustained listenings through repeated plays.
The band gets right to it on the opening track with a sweet, cheeky number about needing a good-for-nothin', low-down man to fill "Your Old Shoes." Track two is a lively addition to honky-tonk's storied "Drinkin' for Two" category. There's also something to be said for judging a CD by its covers which are very different here and equally interesting. One is an a capella take on the traditional gospel number, "Wayfaring Stranger." The other is an accordion-lead version of "New World" which, in its original, was a Reagan-era political anthem from the punk band X. Melanie DiGiovanni from Yard Sale, a kindred band to Loretta Lynch, renders what was once John Doe's raucous guitar lead on her squeezebox*, while three-part harmonies from the Lynch ladies lower the song's anthemic quality without lowering its bite.
This band might have had a good reason to fold instead of grow. A new baby** came along and practice and performance time were naturally limited. It's a treat that they could get a CD out at all, let alone such a good one.
- Jose Segue, Hicks With Sticks - www.hickswithsticks.com
(2 SLIGHT CORRECTIONS * actually, this is Heather's accordion debut - Melanie plays on track #4 - Santa Muerte ** Loretta is sporting TWO NEW BABIES!! Ari's Rowan (4/28/04) and Heather's Lily (7/13/05).
"Loretta Lynch's sweet facade -- gorgeous vocal harmonies, seemingly-pleasant melodies, exceptional musicianship -- masks their richly nuanced dark underside of regret, loss, murder, revenge, and bad drunken decisions made in late-night bars. That they do it with such beauty (and the odd smack of a really barbed sense of humor and a toe-tappin' tune that's difficult to dislodge from one's head) marks them as being in a class with very very few acoustic musicians. And if only more lyricists had their way with language..." - Carnackie, KALX radio
If you ask me, there are really just two types of country bands: those that do a cappella versions of Liz Phair's X-rated song "Flower," and those that don't. Happily, the East Bay's Loretta Lynch belongs in the former camp, and its cover of Phair's ditty says a lot about the group's irreverent approach to musicmaking.
"We wanted to be careful not to be uptight traditional bluegrass," explains Loretta Lynch's singer/guitarist/ accordion player, Valerie Esway. "Not that traditional bluegrass necessarily is uptight, but there are purists, and none of us really wanted to fall into that [trap]."
The four-piece -- composed of Esway (Ramona the Pest), singer/guitarist/mandolin player Ariadne Fellows-Mannion (ex-Hoarhound), vocalist Heather Davison (Hanes Family and the Baroque Choral Guild), and singer/guitarist Joe Rut (86) -- has also been known to follow up a mournful Emmylou Harris tune with a song by indie rockers Yo La Tengo.
The band's eclectic cover choices balance out an equally freewheeling roster of original material, much of which draws heavily on the group's heart-melting three-part harmonies. Each of the Lynchers takes a turn at songwriting duties, resulting in a twangy mishmash of mandolin-plucky bluegrass, soulful murder ballads, and lush singer/songwriter folk.
Despite their short life span together so far (they had their first show in May), the musicians have already landed opening slots for Austin altcountry band the Damnations and sad troubadour Richard Buckner. Not all of their gigs, though, have been at the most, er, traditional of places.
"We've played the Cannabis Club," Esway says, laughing. "They love us over there."
The group was also hired by Kaiser Hospital to perform at a Walnut Creek hospice memorial service. "We were all really nervous," Esway says of the gig. "It was an honor to be a part of it."
Loved by both grieving relatives and registered potheads -- now that's great country music.