From their name, Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, one might surmise that the Michigan acoustic quartet is an old timey cornball bluegrass outfit playing the standard barn yard fare and folk songs, but their new album Ionia, released February of 2015 shows they are far from old timey and are on the cutting edge of new music by embracing the past and future simultaneously.
The solid Twleve song collection was recorded in four days in the dining room of turn of the century house on Lafayette street in Ionia Michigan, hence the name, live without over dubs around a few microphones in the old style. The songs push the limits of acoustic roots instruments; Mandolin, banjo, string bass, dobro and acoustic guitars by combining traditional genres of folk, blues and spirituals with rock, pop, emo and EDM sensibilities. The masterful picking and strumming is focused into dynamic arrangements designed to showcase the velvety vocal range of Lindsay Lou. The gifted singer songwriter certainly could have chosen a more conventional approach to her songs of love and hope, but thankfully for us she the Flatbelly boys chose to go for an indie route vs. joining the auto tuned Nashville hit factory.
This aesthetic is best exemplified in the track ‘Old Song,’ with its chorus “Like and old song, we’ve all heard before, give us peace of mind and takes us back in time.”
Other highlights are the percolating percussive strings of opening track ‘Hot Hands,” that create a dance floor groove all on their own, and the ever ascending arpeggios of “The Fix,’ that build the tension to a climax. Mark Lavengood takes a turn at lead vocals for the easy folk blues sing along ‘Sometimes,’ while the breezy tune ‘House Together,’ is full of spicy hooks. The loving rendition of May Erlewine’s ‘The River Jordan,’ is so honest and truly spiritual it is hard to believe the song is only a scant four years old. PJ George delivers the albums only real percussion by way of Cajon, flatfoot and hambone…aka his own body on the remix ready instrumental title track.
Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys – Ionia
Earth Work Music
Rick J Bowen