Lost Leaders? Essentially, though they are a full band, they are two— Byron Isaacs and Peter Cole. I say two because they are the core of the band, responsible for music and direction. I met Isaacs a number of years ago when he was with Ollabelle but he has spent stints with Levon Helm and Levon’s daughter Amy’s bands, is currently putting in time with The Lumineers and has been working on a solo album which seemingly knows no end, possibly a result of a latent perfection syndrome Brian is trying to perfect. Peter— well, Peter has spent time with a number of bands. I usually laughingly end that statement after “time” because as many times as I have asked him about those bands, he refuses to answer. It wouldn’t matter, I suppose. No matter his credentials, I know his music as recorded by Lost Leaders. I did, after all, pick their 2014 self-titled effort as Album of the Year. It was that good.
What did I say about it? Let me think. I compared them to Crosby Stills & Nash, Poco, and Illinois Speed Press, not because they sounded like them but because they created the same aura at certain moments. I probably mentioned their songwriting skills, which are way beyond what most songwriters have. No copycats, these guys, yet you cannot help but pick up on the influences. Surely I pointed out their arrangements, again among the best I have heard, and play? They most certainly can.
That first album consisted of ten finely honed tunes which I now call classics, though I thought it way too short. So what do I say about Heavy Lifting‘s six? Again, way too short, but damn, they are good enough that I don’t care! They have already dropped the first single and are releasing the album on January 13th. Take a listen…
And it is not a fluke. I have yet to hear anything by these guys I do not like, if not love. The track following “Volunteer” (“Gienevieve”) is sixties gold without sounding too sixties, a ballad as beautiful as the name, supported ably by smooth background voices and horns to match. “Million Little People” would have been a hit in the seventies, easily, the vocal harmonies rivaling any hit of that decade. “I Feel It Comin’ On” has a definite John Lennon feel without meaning to, and “April Snow” could be a Simon & Garfunkel cover but isn’t. Which brings us to “The Righteous Path.”
“The Righteous Path” is one of those seventies tunes I used to latch on to and hold on for life. A mid-tempo semi-rocker, it embraces everything I loved about that decade— the electric sound, the smooth harmonies, the depth. It is a perfect ender and I am not at all surprised. They ended the first album with a similarly structured song and it was as good, thanks to a jam at the end, just as they do on this. Not long enough, as I said, but damn… This will give you an idea. Wait for the jam. It is ascendant.
Heavy Lifting the best of 2017? Too early to tell, obviously, but they hit the note, you know? They bring out the hippie in me. They give me hope in a music world pretty much void of hope, according to way too many. I know they will be in the running, though. That’s how much I believe in Lost Leaders. That’s how much I believe in today’s music.