The San Francisco-based band, The Muddy Roses, consists of three primary collaborators – Elizabeth Lewis (Lead Vocals), John LoGiudici (Vocals, Guitars) and Diana Greenberg (Vocals, Violin, Guitar) who are ably assisted by Andrew Waegel (Vocals, Pedal Steel, Banjo), Dean Kattari (Bass, Production) and Rob Davis (Drums). Their brand new self-titled EP has been produced by Dean Kattari, who has produced live, in-studio recordings for artists ranging from Adele to ZZ Top. The attention to detail and creativity is over the top on this recording. From beginning to end, this record drips class, talent and truth. No hype or trash here, every song delivers a message, and some real zingers for your heart. It usually takes years of work to pull off a record like this. It flows with an Americana roots soul, all shrouded in a subtle veil of heartbreaking country melancholy.
The voices really complement each other, be it a ballad or the more upbeat country shakedowns. The opening song “Long Black River” really establishes the overall tone and vibe of this album. It’s a very organic, light, rootsy type sound that permeates throughout this song and EP.
But that’s only in the sound, because the lyrical themes on this recording are as heavy as a wounded heart can be. The first taste of the bleeding heart syndrome is fully explored in the emotional-filled ballad, “The Hurting Side”. This is Elizabeth Lewis at her despairing best. And while nostalgia will determine how much you love this song, Lewis’ voice will make sure you do.
“Good Love Gone Wrong” is an upbeat barn–stomper that has its core theme described in its title. The first word that came to mind at this midway point of the EP was “refreshing”. I’m nauseated by the abundance of autotune, synthesized beats, etc., used in modern “Country” or “Americana” based music. If I wanted to listen to pop, I’d listen to pop.
I have to say, if anything, The Muddy Roses actually go against the grain with this one. The instrumentals and vocal styles are reminiscent of traditional Americana of decades past, and that theme carries throughout the whole recording. However, the EP manages to capture some of that old roots charm without sounding stale or boring. On the contrary, somehow The Muddy Roses manages to sound very “fresh” throughout.
No matter how much I’m able to appreciate the up-tempo songs, it’s clearly the ballads that capture my attention, and none better than “Nothing To Trade”. Full of subtle, yet complex vocal harmonies that tease and please my ears, along with resonating instrumentation, this song, paired with “The Hurting Side”, is the pick of the bunch in my book. Again, this is where Elizabeth Lewis is at her soul-stirring best, yet you will not hear one bit of schmaltz or kitsch in her voice.
The other impressive quality that kept haunting me throughout the recording was the excellent fiddle playing which infuses these tracks. All-round though, this is an awesome group, with delightful harmonies, tight instrumentals, and original songwriting. Purely on the performances they have produced on this EP, The Muddy Roses practically deserve their own genre.