Levi Lowrey
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Levi Lowrey

Dacula, Georgia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2003

Dacula, Georgia, United States
Established on Jan, 2003
Solo Americana Singer/Songwriter

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"Album Review: Levi Lowery – Roots and Branches (Winner of #NMF Episode 1)"

Album Review: Levi Lowery – Roots and Branches (Winner of #NMF Episode 1)

Levi Lowery sounds like a tall drink of water, although I’ve never actually met him. I can just imagine him being one, though, because his voice has the low, authentic style to it. Then you hear him play the fiddle and feel right at home. A friend of mine calls it “God’s music,” this old time string music. It sounds like the hills. It sounds, for so many of us, like home. If I’m being frank, the album reminds me of my grandfathers and it’s hard not to think about their callouses, earned from hard work and plenty of picking. If you’re a fan of Americana or roots music, this might be your album of the year. It’s a uniquely built album, with the first half hearkening back to roots music and the second half, appropriately the “branches,” show the evolution of the music into newer, higher production styles. Both halves are great in their own right.

The album begins with a nice story about Lowery’s roots in the tradition, followed shortly thereafter by a multi-generational recording of the roots classic “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane.” The instrumentation is as traditional as it can get. It sounds like some of the vocalists on it are pretty old, too. It’s a rich and beautiful track, beginning a wonderful treasure trove of great American music.



A few softer tunes, “The Old Spinning Wheel,” “Out of My Bondage,” and “Lorena” highlight the fiddle sweetly. They remind you of the kind of song many a young man may have danced to with his sweetheart. The songs are soft, harmonic, and endearing. Although the robust album (21 tracks!) is a bit more than we can cover in one review, these gems are worth mentioning for their quintessential roots style. These ones absolutely take me back in time.

One tune, “Soldier’s Joy,” reflects a similar hill country picking style that keeps listeners tapping toes and smiling. The banjo really shines on this bright and colorful tune. Listeners will note the long string lines that seem to go on forever. One can imagine barns full of ruddy youngsters spinning around to this delightful tune. It reflects an era in American music history stretching from the turn of the 20th century for several decades.

The second half of the album kicks off with incredible force on “Prodigal’s Postcard,” complete with a soaring vocal and powerful anthemic melody. It’s definitely clear how the two halves of the album fit together. “Too Late” has electric guitars with warm hues that allow for easy connections back to the “roots” while clearly pushing the sound into the next age. The vocal (channeled through the right side) comes through with a clarity and sincerity not often found in “modern” country music.

“Dance With the Devil” is one of the branches tunes that sounds the most like the roots. It’s a minimalist recording that really reflects Celtic and American southern tones. It’s lonesome and chilling. The following “Like They Should” is one of the best on the whole album. It’s a wonderful song that shows with the strings that it has a familiarity with classic music, while also bringing in production elements to make it feel more “modern.” It all comes together for a song that could be at home on the country top 40 alongside guys like Jason Isbell.

I really enjoy the stripped down acoustic flavor of “If I Could Run,” and it works nicely with plaintive lyrics. It really is a quintessential country song. It might not be the Garth Brooks arena rocking style, but it does the same trick in making your heart skip a few beats. The reflection on lifespan and tough decisions resonates incredibly well with me as a listener. I’m sure I’m not alone on saying some “amens” on this one.



The song that won the contest for Lowery and friends was “One Good Year.” You can immediately hear why it was such a favorite; Lowery’s vocal sounds like David Ramirez. The rest of the song is full-throated, hard driving country music. It really is the kind of song that should be on country radio. A lot of people would find much to like about the style and substance of this outstanding song. “Get these demons off my chest before I’m done…” In a similar vein as Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dyin,” it’s a song about making the most of life.

This is an album that roots and contemporary fans can agree to enjoy. If you are hosting a summer picnic, throw this album on shuffle and see what the people think. It’s hard to believe the same artist is behind such a wide variety of music, even within one tradition. It’s a great album from start to finish, but there are definitely some highlights that show off some outstanding picking chops, songwriting, vocals, and in the end the ability to synthesize country history into one cohesive, enjoyable album. - Greg


"Album Review: Levi Lowrey 'Roots & Branches'"

With his latest release, Roots & Branches Levi Lowrey celebrates his musical heritage, present, and future. The double disc set begins with Roots where on the spoken “I Grew Up In Dacula” Lowrey describes his musical history from learning fiddle and watching his elders play in the weekly jam to ultimately being welcomed into the fold at that jam, cutting his teeth at the “The Chicken House."

On the songs that follow, the feelings of community and intimacy are apparent, transporting you to that chicken shack listening to Levi and the modern day Skillet Lickers (Lowrey’s great grandfather’s popular band in 1920’s and 1930’s). Brought to life by superb musicianship, the songs on Roots include standards (“Soldier’s Joy” and “Lorena”), Skillet Lickers’ originals and instrumentals that celebrate the past and furnish a traditional, down-home feel. The first chapter also includes "Hand Me Down My Walking Cane" and “The Old Spinning Wheel” before concluding with “Community” on which Lowrey reflects on the communal sense music provides and the impact it can have on people, “Fleet Stanley” where he talks about that lack of believability that is lacking in popular music and “Lamp Lighting Time In The Valley” which recounts his journey while noting that while much has changed, he can still be found at the Chicken House every Friday when he is home as it ”is the place that will guide me wherever I go.”

With his roots firmly planted, the second disc, Branches demonstrates how those early influences shaped his branches as an artist and as a man, who while still questioning and dealing with his struggles, remains realistic, thoughtful, compassionate….and a dreamer. Opening track, “Prodigals Postcard” is a narrative detailing that familiar story of leaving one’s small town for bigger things, yet being held – or pulled - back (for better or for worse) by one’s roots. “If folks say there’s a way to get out of this town what am I still doing here?”

Lowrey brings his beautifully warm, striking and heartfelt vocals to a myriad of songs about love, life, and death. “Dance With The Devil,” where a long-passed girlfriend returns from the grave calling him to come with her, is instantly chilling while “Too Late” relates that familiar feeling of regret and lost love, “Sometimes it takes the sound of a fool-heart breaking down to make you realize that every little tear in her eye was just hourglass sand” with a melancholy melody trailing off as he sings, “You can’t go back it don’t work like that…” and “Old Trouble Like Me” which finds him openly and honestly warning another not to give their heart to him because he’ll just break it, “Give your cards to old gypsies, they'll read them for you/Give your youth to old habits and old points of view/Old memories of lovers don’t die easily/Don't give your heart to old trouble like me."

The gentle, folk-inspired “Play An Old Time Fiddle Tune” is hopeful and encouraging, offering the wisdom that comes with time to “keep your hopes up tall and your worries short” and spending our limited time here on earth wisely, focusing on loved ones and dreams. Similar themes continue on the driving, “Like They Should” where more modern melodies are infused in a song about the often unexpected turns life can take from illness to the fulfillment of dreams and to the (literal) fall of an old and special tree. “And I chase dreams juts to watch them burn been deemed unworthy of the praise I’ve earned/It’s a side of effect of living wouldn’t change it if I could/Things they don’t always turn out like they should.”

Branches is rounded out by three stellar tracks: “Play An Old Time Fiddle Tune,” “One Good Year” and “The One That Broke The World” The lively, inspiring and lovingly written first examines death as a physical event, but one where you can still be present, living on in other ways. “Bury me beneath the weeping willow/I'll live on forever in a tree/If your bow runs out of grip just wait for the sap to drip/You can play an old time fiddle tune with me." Death is again addressed on the personal “One Good Year” where he pleadingly requests “300 days and two good months” to feel a semblance peace and get his demons off his chest before his time comes, before closing with the acoustic “The One That Broke The World” an introspective and incredibly stirring song blending religion and struggle. “I keep moving though there ain’t no signs I’m gaining any ground I guess you can’t lose what you ain’t ever found.”

Roots and Branches originates from an artist who shows great reverence and respect for his past while continuing to grow his own boughs into a beautifully shady tree full of songs filled with emotion, insight and indelible melodies that will continue to nourish long after he moves on. - The Daily Country


"Levi Lowrey’s ‘Roots and Branches’"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTUy5jA5dO4&feature=youtu.be - Patrice Whiffen


Discography

Roots & Branches 2016
My Crazy Head 2015
Levi Lowrey 2014
I Confess I Was a Fool 2011
Breaking Southern Ground 2010

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Bio

Born in Dacula, GA, Levi Lowrey has always known that he was made for music. His great, great, great-grandfather, Gid Tanner, was a fiddle player in the Skillet Lickers band during the 1920s and 30s, and was one of  the first artists to ever sell a million records. Lowrey began performing when he was 12 years old and has forged a veritable path of success ever since. As co-writer on Zac Brown Band's CMA Awards nominated song, "Colder Weather," Lowrey's signature style of poignant  honesty, both dark and light, acts like a salve for kindred souls. Drawing inspiration from the struggles and triumphs of his own life, Lowrey lays his heart on his sleeve, reassuring us that we're not alone. 

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