Mark Lennon
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Mark Lennon

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Mark Lennon
Down the Mountain
Los Angeles, CA
Produced by Mark Lennon | Recorded at Universal Music Publishing Group Studio in Los Angeles, ca | Engineered by Mike Fennel and Mark Lennon | Mastered by Eddie Tomecko at Audioworks

Mark Lennon brings Carolina to SoCal with his third album, Down the Mountain. Incorporating different genres, Lennon continues to create his own blend of folk, country and rock ‘n’ roll while staying true to his southern groundings.

A calming strum of the acoustic guitar draws you in on the first track, “Down the Mountain.” Lennon’s raspy, yet cool voice invites you back to a more simple time while allowing for short guitar rips and merging background vocals. Gentle strikes of the piano begin the second track, “My Hometown,” as lyrics take the listener on a nostalgic journey down a countryside memory lane. A 40-second instrumental solo of piano and guitar peacefully allows you to drift into classic folk and country melodies before winsome lyrics paint more of a reminiscent picture.

Integrating vocals by Simone Stevens offer a sweet accent alongside the sax-like tone of the third track, “Wildside.” A slight country twang enters in the next track, “What I Could Be With You,” while a bit of rock edge emerges with guitar solos in “I’m Doin’ Fine.”

Picks of the acoustic create hints of a southern folk background in the song “Tennessee,” including softhearted lyrics such as, “We are just along for the ride/trying to find out what’s on the other side.”

The album finishes with the powerfully vocal-driven “Broken.” This track is a perfect mixture of heartfelt lyrics, easing yet engaging melodies and, similar to each Mark Lennon song, it tells a story and takes the listener on their own musical journey of keeping roots while chasing dreams.

(Vagabonds Tune Records)
-Aimee Shea
- Performer Magazine


From the outset of this very short long player, a mere 27minutes and 23 seconds to be exact, you’re left in no doubt this is a country album that airs just on the side of alt and country rock. The opener, Down the mountain, rolls gently on through with accompaniment from hammond, pedal steel and vocal harmonies. We have here in place all the elements of a pretty decent album.

My Home Town bridges that gap between country and alt with Marks no fuss approach to song lyrics, singing honestly about a longing for the tree lined streets of his hometown back in the south. Mark now resides in Los Angeles, a place devoid of any tree-lined streets he would have us believe. But we get the sentiment.

With Wildside Mark moves down a gear and into, I feel his best mode. Leaving the full band behind for a moment, this track sees Mark laid bare, if only for a short while. With vocals from both Mark Lennon and Simone Stevens, a big acoustic guitar, a dash of piano and horns makes up by far the best track on this album. Now, this is no Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris moment, but I will admit there is a certain twang to the combination, but this track is so far removed from both alt-country or country rock. This is fresh. This is simplicity at it’s finest. There is a wise use of space between the two opposing melting and sliding vocal harmonies and a lack (I am please to say) of any drifting and a tad over bearing solos from his fellow band members, which is an all to common reoccurring fault with this album. What I could be with you and I’m doing fine both suffer from the same affliction.

This only goes to show that when Mark’s music is stripped down to its component parts it still functions so perfectly well.
The penultimate track Tennessee and the final track Broken find Mark musically grounded and in full control of his run away band and finally able to show case his obvious talents as a gifted songwriter. - Twister Valley Records


As a transplanted LA-based singer-songwriter - by way of North Carolina, Mark Lennon’s career arc recalls the very same legendary country-rock forebears that – seemingly, had the biggest influence on his musical development: Gram Parsons, Neil Young & Gene Clark. On his 4th release, the 7-song ‘Down the Mountain’, Lennon’s well-crafted songs & spot-on accompaniment make for a fine CD that, as well, reminds one of Ryan Adams at his alt-country best. Among the standout tracks, My Hometown bears more than a trace of American Beauty-era Grateful Dead influence, while a duet with Simone Stevens (Wildside), with its Parsons / Harris-like harmonies, is as delicate as it is beautiful. From such notable influences, then, it is easy to understand why Mark Lennon’s ‘Down the Mountain’ CD is so uniquely a representation of California-style country rock - & such a fine one at that. - Village Records


Mark Lennon – Down the Mountain – (Vagabonds Tune Records)
Features, Record Reviews — By Jim Simpson on August 30, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Atlanta, GA — At first glance, there’s nothing special about Mark Lennon. He’s the guy next door, the laid-back neighbor strumming his guitar on the back porch while sipping a cold drink. He’s not flashy, but then again he doesn’t have to be. Just listen to his music and you’ll realize he’s a savvy musician speaking simple, honest truths.

Lennon’s third album, Down the Mountain (a stripped-down production and rather short at only seven songs), opens with the title track, his comfortable vocals gliding effortlessly around a swirling Hammond organ and whipsmart pedal steel and acoustic guitars, inviting us to check out a view of life from a different perspective.

Reinforcing this sense of place, “My Hometown” stresses the importance of retaining within your heart that burning light of home, the territory and loved ones that define and shape you, no matter how far from home you stray. Throughout the song, Lennon’s voice drips with longing.

A North Carolina native living in Los Angeles for the past seven years, Lennon has adopted the easy style of Southern California country-rock singer/songwriters while retaining his small-town roots from a place which he refers to as a “speck-on-the-map” town.

Just when you think this album can’t get any better, there’s “Wildside”, a gorgeous duet with Simone Stevens, who has been rightfully compared to Emmylou Harris at her best. The song (co-written by Lennon/Stevens) begins with an unexpected muted trumpet which fits the mood perfectly as the singers tell of a strained love affair that must inevitably result in one lover coming to the other’s “wildside”, and the unbearable lonely hours until that happens — if it ever does at all. This heartbreaking and beautiful song will stay with you for a long time.

Lennon has surrounded himself with some top-notch bandmates as well (Yohei Shikano, electric guitar; Sean Caffey on pedal steel), and one of the album’s most impressive jams comes on “What I Could Be With You,” showcasing some expert piano by Michael Russeck and guitar solos from Max Waker.

The shuffling and halting “I’m Doin’ Fine,” with its rather cliched protagonist keeping a stiff upper lip during tough times, is saved by Russeck’s raucous piano and Max Waker’s impressive guitar. “Tennessee” is a sweet anthem to Lennon’s Carolina roots, calling him like a lover to “come home” while the Tennessee countryside rolls by: “We’re all lost in the mainstream.”

“Broken” rounds out the album with some solid Hammond organ flourishes (again, Russeck), while the characters in this one incessantly repeat, “I’m broken / I don’t know where I’m goin’.” I wished this effort had ended on a stronger note, but nonetheless there’s no doubt Mark Lennon knows where he’s been and where he’s headed.

http://countrymusicpride.com/2009/08/mark-lennon-down-the-mountain-vagabonds-tune-records/
- Country Music Pride


Folk Alley Artist of the Month:
http://www.folkalley.com/

http://www.folkalley.com/openmic/artist.php?id=1411
- Folk Alley


Mark Lennon’s third CD, “Down the Mountain,” finds the terrific LA-based singer-songwriter continuing his musical journey down that Americana trail blazed by the likes of legends such as Ryan Adams, Gene Clark, and Gram Parsons. And like those notable forerunners, Lennon’s ease and naturalness with the country-tinged rock style is as pure as it is noteworthy. With vocal inflections that sound clear-as-mountain-stream authentic, Lennon’s songs of love’s travails and the struggle to find meaning in mixed-up times, really strike home on tunes such as “What I Could Be With You,” “Broken,” and the wonderful “My Hometown,” a track that recalls American Beauty-era Grateful Dead. As accessible and tuneful as all the songs are, though, Lennon’s duet with Simone Stevens on “Wildside” has a fragile beauty that goes beyond questions of style or genre, invoking instead the notion that great music knows no such boundaries. With a multi-textured Americana / Country Rock ensemble providing the perfect backdrop for “Down the Mountain,” Mark Lennon’s latest CD is a triumph of style and delivery. - Rice B. and the RadioIndy.com Reviewer Team


Discography

Down the Mountain (2009) VTR
Broken EP (2007) VTR
Back the the Roots (2004) VTR

Photos

Bio

Roots singer/songwriter Mark Lennon blindsides Los Angeles with his third album Down the Mountain. Sun drenched city streets set the scene for songs of lost love, reflection, family, and longing for the South.

“I grew up on hippie music and bluegrass, so I like when music has great lyrics but also jams out,” says Lennon, who still considers North Carolina his home. “I am proud of our musical upbringing. We lived in a little speck-on-a-map town, but always had some amazing bands passing through.”

A Los Angeles transplant, Lennon has lived in Southern California for the past seven years combining his folk, bluegrass, classic country, and rock and roll influences. The Mark Lennon Band brings together a diverse group of musicians from a variety of backgrounds, creating a sound only found on Down the Mountain.

“This is fresh. This is simplicity at it’s finest.”
-Twister Valley Records

"...lovely sounding roots rock album with hints of Ryan Adams (especially vocally), the Grateful Dead and the Black Crowes. These songs are still on rotation after three weeks - a good sign - they're memorable, catchy and shouting out for recognition."
-Americana UK

"He’s not flashy, but then again he doesn’t have to be. Just listen to his music and you’ll realize he’s a savvy musician speaking simple, honest truths."
-Country Music Pride

"Mark is no slouch himself when it comes to vocals - there's a palpable yearning in his voice as he sings "My Hometown" another highlight from the album."
-Beat Surrender

"His music brings to mind the folk and country-rock sounds of early ‘70s Golden State transplants like Brewer & Shipley and Grateful Dead."
-Hyperbolium

“a perfect mixture of heartfelt lyrics, easing yet engaging melodies and, similar to each Mark Lennon song, it tells a story and takes the listener on their own musical journey of keeping roots while chasing dreams.”
-Performer Magazine